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Since President Duterte’s election in May 2016, the Philippines has seen a surge in extrajudicial killings, increased police abuse and the use of torture - including of children - notably in the framework of Duterte’s “war on drugs”, which comes with a death toll now estimated at over 27,000 victims.
The President’s “drug war” has also led to a dramatic increase of incarcerations, including of children: as of March 2020, the country’s prison facilities had overstretched to accommodate 534% of their normal capacity, becoming the most overcrowded prison system in the world.
Since President Duterte took power in June 2016, human rights defenders in the Philippines have been repeatedly subjected to trumped-up charges, lengthy pre-trial arbitrary detention, threats, and killings, in total impunity. The aim is to discredit their legitimate work and silence all critical voices. They are also often labelled “terrorists” or “enemies of the State” to encourage violent attacks against them. The environment in which they operate is increasingly deteriorating, including through invasive NGO registration and financial procedures, as well as the adoption of new repressive laws curtailing the enjoyment of fundamental rights and basic freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.