Thousands of children in the Philippines have suffered psychological distress, bullying and worsening poverty as a result of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
No fewer than 101 children have also been killed either as bystanders or as main targets of the violent crackdown between July 2016 and December 2018, the New York-based group said in a 48-page report.
Human Rights Watch urged members of the UN Human Rights Council to support an independent international investigation into the drug war killings and the impact of the violence on children, and press the Philippine government to end its illegal drug operations.
“Without action now, an entire generation of Filipino children will be victimized by the violence of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign,’’ Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher at Human Rights Watch, said.
According to Philippine police statistics, over 5,600 suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations since July 1, 2016.
“Estimates by human rights group place the death toll at more than 27,000.
“In many of the raids, children witnessed the killing of a parent, or were present while their parent was dragged away and shot,’’ Human Rights Watch said.
According to the report, due to this, the children suffer psychological distress, some developing aggressive and violent behaviour, while others becoming withdrawn.
“Many have been forced to drop out of school due to bullying and harassment or poverty.
“Many children are left with no choice but to work and some end up homeless and living in the streets, further exposing themselves to danger, violence and criminal activity,’’ the report said.