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More than 122 children have been killed in the Philippines' 'war on drugs,' and police have been responsible for over half of the killings

© REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao/File Photo Protesters and residents hold lighted candles and placards at the wake of Kian delos Santos, a 17-year-old high school student, who was among the people shot dead in an escalation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs in Caloocan city, Metro Manila, Philippines August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao/File Photo

  • More than 122 children in the Philippines have been killed since July 2016 due to President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs.’
  • The deaths have been either on purpose, as replacements for real targets, or due to mistaken identities since 2016, according to a new study.
  • The study done by the World Organisation Against Torture found that more than half of the killings were carried out by the police.
  • The report outlined some horrific incidents including the killing of a 7-year-old boy after he witnessed another murder by local police. Only one killing has led to the arrest of any police officers.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The police in the Philippines have been responsible for killing more than 60 children — out of at least 122 killings — during President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs,’ according to a new study.

The study titled “How could they do this to my child?” was released by the World Organisation Against Torture (WOAT) on June 29 and focuses on children’s deaths between July 2016 and December 2019.

It found more than 122 children had been killed, either on purpose, as replacements for real targets, or due to mistaken identities since 2016, and it has not stopped this year, with at least seven children being killed between January and March.

The report said that most victims were poor and vulnerable, and nearly every family asked for anonymity, fearing retaliation for speaking out. 

The report also outlined some horrific incidents, including the killing of a 7-year-old boy after he witnessed another killing by local police. The report said the youngest victim was a 20-month-old baby girl.

There’s only been one conviction: Three police officers were convicted for killing a 17-year-old boy named Kian delos Santos in 2017, after they were captured on CCTV footage, according to Euro News

The deaths documented by WOAT are also probably an underestimate, as not every death is reported due to people’s fear of the police, according to The Guardian.

The report was released days before the Human Rights Council is to be presented with another report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which warned that police have been acting as though they have “permission to kill.”

That permission comes from Duterte, who since becoming President in 2016 has focused on crushing crime and stopping the drug trade. 

In April, he told coronavirus troublemakers they would be shot dead by soldiers, and in June he renewed his threat to murder drug dealers, after officials seized 1,667 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, according to Al Jazeera.

“If you destroy my country distributing 5.1 billion pesos worth of shabu … I will kill you,” he said in a recorded address.  

According to the United Nations report, tens of thousands of people could have been killed in the war, and police, who are responsible for a large portion of the killings, are provided with “near immunity.”

Another study released in May by the Human Rights Watch said that while some children died from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, other children were deliberately targeted, according to the Sydney Morning Herald

It’s likely that the Philippines will face a concerted push for an independent investigation into Duterte’s drug war and what rights groups have called extra-judicial killings, according to the Herald.

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