Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tribute and protest relating to murder of blogger

All those in the world who engage in blog posting, must grieve at the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Maltese blogger assassinated in a bomb attack in Malta. The right to freedom of expression is as important as the right to life itself.
She protested the subversion of civil society and the justice system. In a country where the democratic system is abrogated, we express our regret, at the same  time as admiration for her heroic life.

"In her last blogpost, published the day she died, Daphne Caruana Galizia signed off with a sentence that seems particularly chilling now."

“There are crooks everywhere you look. The situation is desperate.”

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Beginning of the end of Duterte


The following action of retreat from his infamous killings labelled as counter drug action, may indicate the beginning of the fall of Duterte. There are strong parallels with the efforts by Marcos to correct excesses that preceded his flight from the Philippines.

"President Duterte has taken his war on drugs away from the Philippine National Police and designated instead the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as the “sole agency” that will carry out operations against the narcotics trade.

Mr. Duterte’s move is seen as intended to eliminate deadly police raids that have marred his campaign against illegal drugs, which a survivor and two people whose relatives have been killed by police have asked the Supreme Court to stop for being “patently illegal and grossly unconstitutional.”

Police say they have killed more than 3,800 people during drug operations since the launch of the campaign last year.

They insist the victims put up resistance and the officers involved just defended themselves.

Killing for rewards
More than 2,000 others have been killed by unknown assailants, in what police say could be fights between drug gangs but rights groups believe are attacks by hired guns working for the police or by policemen themselves working for rewards that come with the campaign."
 Philippine Daily Enquirer, 12th October

Friday, October 06, 2017

Phillipine killings: a turning point

 Philippine Enquirer
A news item which spread throughout the world press on the killing of Kian Loyd delos Santos is leading to popular rejection against the Duterte killings. The testimony of the two children is confirmed by observation camera images of police holding and dragging the victim into a laneway. Dressed only in shorts, he could not have hidden the bulky gun from police/ Autopsy of the boy's body showed he had been killed by three shots, one from above while he squatted in a foetal position. Questioned whether they had checked that the victim was indeed involved in the drug trade, police confirmed that after the killing, an informant had provided confirmation.
"It was just one death, among the thousands killed in the Filipino war of drugs. But this particular killing - and the story behind it - have lingered in the mainstream news media and online, in a way that others have not.
It wasn't the Filipino media's reporting, their constant documenting of the killings or their raising of human rights issues that ended up putting police under investigation and the Duterte government on the defensive.
It was pure happenstance, the existence of a single CCTV camera, and the emergence of about two seconds of real-time video that put the lie to the official version of one teenager's brutal killing, that changed the story." Aljazeera, 27th August

"Over 5,000 mourners, many wearing white shirts with the words “Justice for Kian”,  joined the funeral march from De los Santos’ home in Caloocan city, north of the capital Manila.
Thousands more lined the roads that led to a cemetery about 10km away. They waited along sidewalks, and on roofs, staircases, bridgeways and overpasses to catch a glimpse of De los Santos’ flower-draped coffin on a flatbed truck flanked with tarpaulins bearing the words “Run, Kian, Run” and “Stop the killings”." Straits Times, 26th August

Thursday, September 07, 2017

"Let Slip the Dogs of War"

We become inured so quickly to violence; acts that revolt us become everyday events. The unspeakable becomes the norm. It is happening in present day Philippines, as President Duterte has “let slip the dogs of war”, in his so called war on drugs, which gives no quarter, no excuse. Nor can he. Once the dogs of war are let slip, they cannot be reined in until the sheer weariness and glut of killings makes the authors themselves vulnerable to other forces of restraint.,

I have been following the macabre count of Duterte's killings, and listed details of the most horrific on these blog pages. But recently I had the experience of waking to front page news of killings which had taken place the night before in Quezon City where I was staying. The news told of a wave of killings in the very vicinity of the hotel I stayed in. Although I had heard nothing, another guest who was attending the same meeting as I, told me of hearing gunshots in the night, on streets I had walked a few hours before. The front page of my newspaper carried an appeal from the Vice-President of the Philippines, Leni Robredo, that people express outrage: “We are not like that. We have been disgraced by this culture of impunity a long time should not happen” she said. I respond to her call in this blog. Of course there was no sequel to the news, no investigation. Nor could there be; the dogs of war do not respond to outrage or protest.

In 1946 the world made an attempt to restrain the dogs of war, and spent two years composing a standard of justice and restraint, in response to the awful war which had engulfed the whole world from 1939 – 1945. In an epic human document “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” the fundamental principles of human behaviour were enunciated in plain and simple language which any human being with basic literacy could understand. “All human beings … should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. One of the shortest principles announces: Article 3 “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. Our representatives who composed the short Declaration were well aware of the facile justifications which would be offered by the Dutertes of the world and countered: Article 11 “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence”

When the text of the Declaration was presented at a UN General Assembly, it was accepted by the overwhelming majority, and has become the living standard of civilisation. There were abstentions by a small number of states who protested that the Declaration should be obligatory on all nations, an impossibility then as now.

But we are in a world where ideals are no longer accepted. In Asia alone there are unaccountable slaughters of many to this day. One Asian country is even brandishing a weapon ten times more fearsome than that which obliterated Hiroshima, when the world glimplsed the outcome of unfettered war. Yes, Vice-President Leni Robredo, we accept your invitation to express outrage. But we must also strive to rid ourselves of those who themselves release and cannot control the “dogs of war”.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Poverty & Justice: A Deadly Mix


While Thailand has not carried out judicial executions since 2009, all the consequences of poverty which accompany the death penalty are fully in force.

1. Unequal access to education and information In many criminal justice systems, the judge and/or jury may have explicit or implicit biases against people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, making those defendants more likely to face a guilty verdict and to be sentenced to death.

All over the world, justice systems are very complex and people facing the death penalty need expertise to assist in their defense.
en lack access to education and are often deprived of necessary and elementary social and financial support and legal knowledge to understand and participate fully in legal proceedings initiated against them in death penalty cases.

They are less likely to assert rights and benefits provided by the law, and they may not know how to get support.

2. Bail and pretrial release

A person from a disadvantaged socioeconomic background will be less likely to afford bail and obtain release before trial.

The defendant will therefore be less able to assist in preparing a defense.

3. Unequal access to justice

No justice system is completely free of charge. The expenses related to access to justice are a major obstacle for people living in poverty, as they simply can’t cover the costs.

These obstacles are amplified in capital cases, where each stage of the legal process involves an additional cost, such as hiring a lawyer competent to handle legal and evidentiary matters specific to capital proceedings. These accumulated expenses are one of the main reasons people living in poverty have trouble making use of the remedies available to them in the criminal justice system.

4. The importance of the effectiveness of the legal assistance

The legal representation for defendants from vulnerable backgrounds is often of lesser efficacy; appointed attorneys are often underpaid, lack adequate means to lead their own investigations, and lack the trial experience required for death penalty cases.
The inferior quality of legal representation places defendants living in poverty at a serious disadvantage, thereby increasing their likelihood of being sentenced to death.

5. Building a strong defense

Building a strong defense in a capital case can require a lot of financial resources.

People from a disadvantaged economic background do not have the means to pay experts or to obtain a more in-depth investigation of facts and evidence.

Such defendants may also not have the resources to effectively assess whether they are receiving adequate representation.

6. The specific case of foreign nationals

Some countries host foreign nationals to perform underpaid or menial work, such as housekeeping or hard physical labor.

Those migrant workers often take such jobs because they come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds in their home countries.

If these people interact with the criminal justice system, they may face additional discrimination because of their status as foreign nationals, because they don’t speak the language and don’t have the network of people and social influences to support their cases, in addition to the barriers they face as persons living in poverty.

7. Biases and discrimination against people living in poverty

In many criminal justice systems, the judge and/or jury may have explicit or implicit biases against people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, making those defendants more likely to face a guilty verdict and to be sentenced to death.

8. Corruption

Corruption is endemic in many countries, including in the police force, the judicial system, and even judges themselves.

Those who have financial means or who have a strong social network may be able to access much more efficient justice and even ensure a favorable trial outcome.

Those who don’t have the financial means to pay for these justice-sector services - which are supposed to be free of charge - see their petitions and requests delayed, rejected, or dropped. Corruption is often coupled with dreadful prison conditions.

9. Death row living conditions

The conditions of detention may largely depend on the financial resources of the convicted person.

For example, people from poor socioeconomic backgrounds will have more difficulty accessing certain prison services such as medical care or food, and will not be able to receive financial assistance from family members to remedy the situation.Poverty can also limit the opportunities a death row prisoner has to stay in contact with family members and friends.

10. Impact on relatives

The economic and social consequences of a death sentence can be dramatic for people living in poverty.

Deprived of liberty, they are also deprived of income, employment, and social benefits. The family is also directly affected, especially if the convicted person was the family’s main breadwinner.

The financial burdens on family members throughout the legal proceedings can also lead to poverty.

For further information please view

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Singapore again Executes: Mandatory execution a legal abomination

"A Malaysian drug trafficker was hanged by Singapore yesterday despite a plea for clemency from the United Nations and concerns expressed by rights groups over alleged flaws in his trial.
Prabagaran Srivijayan was arrested in 2012 after 22.24g of heroin was found in the car he was driving when it was stopped at a checkpoint going to Singapore.
He was sentenced to death two years later after being convicted of drug-trafficking. Trafficking certain volumes of illegal drugs into Singapore carries a mandatory death penalty unless certain conditions are met for the sentence to be commuted."

The opening sentence of this news item expresses two of three flagrant injustices in Singapore behavior. The first injustice is the refusal to accept UN norms regarding the death  penalty. Singapore still quibbles with the accepted interpretation of Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Everyone has the right to life".
Singapore has consistently maintained that the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime and has rejected calls to abolish capital punishment.  In particular, the only possible justification for the death penalty is in response to deliberate homicide, not crimes relating to drugs. A mandatory death penalty is a legal abomination.

The second injustice relates to alleged flaws in the trial of the accused:
Amnesty International had raised concerns about the fairness of the trial, including the alleged failure of the authorities “to follow up leads and call on key witnesses that would corroborate his version of events”.
But following the execution, the narcotics bureau said Srivijayan was “accorded full due process under the law, and he was represented by legal counsel throughout the process”.
The veracity of the narcotics bureau is questioned by FIDH: "
"Singaporean authorities have never allowed Prabagaran’s attorneys, N Surendran and Latheefa Koya, who were hired by Prabagaran’s mother in January 2017, to visit him in Changi Prison. Authorities did not provide any reason for this denial. The denial of Prabagaran to meet with his legal representatives falls short of international fair trial standards. According to General Comment No. 32 concerning Article 14(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), “in cases involving capital punishment, it is axiomatic that the accused must be effectively assisted by a lawyer at all stages of the proceedings.”
A third injustice is to precede with execution while legal process was continuing:
"His lawyers contended that he still had an appeal pending in Malaysian courts, where lawyers had filed an application to compel the Malaysian government to take his case to the International Court of Justice amid concerns he did not get a fair trail." FIDH

Death Penalty Thailand has frequently submitted protests to executions. However, on this occasion, we were aware that nothing can deflect the microstate of Singapore from pursuing its bloody way, ignoring world opinion and counter argument. But this makes it all the more necessary to protest this unjust and pointless execution. There must be other ways to bring sanity to this blind system of injustice. A recent film "The Apprentice" gave voice to another form of protest; it represents the moral collapse of a Singapore hangman, the final link in an unjust and inhuman practice. I hope that we can all contribute to this chorus of disapproval.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Thailand, death penalty prison statistics, April 2017

                                     Men:             373     drug cases  172    Other   201 
                                     Women:         74     drug cases    64    Other      10

                                     Total            447     drug cases  236   Other   211

Friday, May 12, 2017

"Drug 'reform' madness"

"The oft repeated quotation of the phrase attributed to Albert Einstein, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, comes to mind immediately on reading the leading article of 10th May “Drug reform still pending”. It is my experience that those in the front line of the struggle against drug addiction in Thailand have long been aware of the road block in drug reform. I recall participating several years ago in a seminar held in the Bangkok ONCB office where realistic assessment of Thailand's drug problems were presented, an admission of past failures to control drug traffic in the Kingdom, and, finally, a clear and hopeful proposal of change which would be based in large on a policy of decriminalisation of drugs. Several foreign participants were present, and one of them came to ask me whether the message we had just heard implied a serious move on the part of Thai authorities. My answer was, no, it did not. The forces of insanity were not participants in the seminar, and would continue on their blind path.
There is no doubting the gravity of the problem.  72% of our critically overcrowded prisons are crammed with men and women condemned with utmost severity on drug related crimes, while a few token and showpiece drug treatment centres are half empty. The director of one such centre told me that he did not understand why so few drug cases were referred to him. At the same time in Geneva a government representative assured the Human Rights Committee, that Thailand had reform centres which were undertaking rehabilitation of drug addicts.
Unfortunately, Thailand is not alone in its drug problem insanity; the Philippines has become an arena of bloody murder in the streets in the name of drug suppression, and won support in the recent ASEAN meeting in Manila. Insanity thus becomes a regional norm.
Of course, the always asked question is, if not the path of suppression, what other path is there? Yes, there are other ways, and there are countries who are bravely taking the path of decriminalisation and rehabilitation, most notably the policy of Portugal, which introduced a new programme on drugs in the year 2000. The new law does not deny that drugs are dangerous, but admits that repression does not give better results and endangers people's health
The problem of drugs is one of the most serious human problems ever encountered in human history, and its solution cannot be quick or facile. Success is counted in complex statistics which monitor a stop in growth of the drug epidemic, and then a slow but certain turn around. The problem involves human perceptions and behaviour and one of the great successes of Portugal is in changing the perception of a whole nation to accept that the person addicted to drugs is a patient in need of treatment, rather than a criminal to be persecuted.
In 2003 when Thailand changed the method of execution to lethal injection rather than death by machine gun, a team from the Department of Corrections was sent to the US to learn the new technique of killing. Surely it is opportune to send a similar team to Portugal to learn the technique of restoring life to those trapped in the way of death."
Danthong Breen, Union for Civil Liberty

PostBag, Bangkok Post, 12 May 2017

Speech on Drug Policy Relevant to Whole World

United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, on May 5th, delivered a speech at drug policy convention at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to thank the organizers of the policy forum – FLAG anti-death penalty job power – for organizing this Forum and alluring me to take part in it – I’m each grateful and honored!
This is a crucial initiative – a well timed initiative – one which I help wholeheartedly.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimate that worldwide some 29 million individuals who use medicine endure from drug use problems whereas drug trafficking by trans-national prison cartels is a serious source of violence and insecurity the world over, affecting each society. Drug trafficking can be a serious source of corruption, undermining each the rule of regulation and good governance and eroding public belief.
Another, drug trafficking, drug abuse and their penalties represent main threats to the lives, well being, dignity and hopes of hundreds of thousands of individuals and their family members. In response, nearly a yr in the past to this very day, Heads of State and Government assembled at the United Nations Headquarters to think about a world plan of motion known as: Our joint dedication to successfully addressing and countering the world drug downside. I encourage you to seek the advice of it.
The doc is troublesome to summarize given its breadth however enable me to spotlight a couple of of its key features for you:
The particular session of the UN General Assembly drafted a complete strategy that takes into consideration a variety of human and different components that drive the drug downside together with social improvement, public well being, justice and human rights. It requires simpler approaches than the punishment/punitive mannequin that some governments have adopted.
It urges governments to uphold the inherent dignity of all people, to respect, defend and promote all human rights, elementary freedoms and the rule of regulation and in the improvement and implementation of drug insurance policies.
The joint Commitment additionally acknowledges that dependence is a posh well being dysfunction of a power and relapsing nature, whose social causes and penalties could be prevented and handled by, inter alia, efficient scientific evidence-based drug remedy, care and rehabilitation packages, together with community-based packages.
The world’s leaders acknowledged the essential function performed by civil society organizations and people entities concerned in drug-related remedy providers and dedicated to accentuate their function and cooperation with them.
They denounced repeatedly, drug-related corruption; decrying its function in the obstruction of justice, together with by intimidation of justice officers.
They promised to elaborate efficient scientific evidence-based prevention methods which are centered on and tailor-made to the wants of people, households and communities and so they dedicated to advertise proportionate national sentencing insurance policies, practices and tips too for drug-related offenses.
Throughout the joint dedication doc, governments affirm the significance of systematic information assortment, proof gathering, scientific analysis and the sharing of knowledge together with the alternate of greatest practices associated to stopping and countering drug-related crime.
What governments didn’t decide to final yr was “the war on drugs” strategy.
Quite to the opposite. They known as for what quantities to a balanced, multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary strategy, and so they positioned nice emphasis on well being, rights, and justice.
They didn’t recommend that death penalty was an applicable or efficient response to medicine trafficking, not to mention drug use; Instead, they spoke about proportionate sentencing and various punishments.
Their doc will not be good. The joint Commitment to Effectively Addressing and Countering the World Drug Problem is criticized, by activists and quite a few politicians from round the world, for not contemplating extra explicitly the function of hurt discount methods, as an example, comparable to needle and syringe packages and prescription of substitute medicines.
But in April 2016, the basic meeting of the world’s authorities acknowledged explicitly that the “war on drugs” – be it group based mostly, national or world – doesn’t work. And additional, that many harms related to medicine are usually not attributable to medicine, however by the adverse impacts of badly thought out drug insurance policies.
The joint dedication to successfully addressing and countering the world drug downside is a name for motion, however to not any motion: based on the world’s leaders there are different methods, higher methods; evidenced-based, scientific methods, of combating drug abuse and trafficking – methods that don’t make issues worse.
Badly thought out, ill-conceived drug insurance policies not solely fail to deal with substantively drug dependency, drug-related criminality, and the drug commerce, they add extra issues, as has been properly documented, round the world, together with by United Nations our bodies and Special Rapporteurs.
They add, escalate and/or compound issues comparable to:
  • Killings, extra-judicial or by prison gangs; the break-down of the rule of regulation;
  • vigilante crimes,
  • Torture, ill-treatment and sexual violence;
  • Prolonged pre-trial detention, necessary sentencing and disproportionately lengthy sentences for drug possession, and many others.
  • Detention in drug and rehabilitation centres with out trial or a correct analysis of drug dependency;
  • Non-consensual experimental remedy;
And additional, badly thought out, ill-conceived drug insurance policies can foster a regime of impunity infecting the complete justice sector and reaching into complete societies, invigorating the rule of violence relatively than of regulation; eroding public belief in public establishments; breeding concern and main individuals to despair.
These are the findings from analysis undertaken round the world. Let me be clear. In none of the nations the place the perverse penalties of ill-thought out drug insurance policies have been reported, in none of those nations did the drug downside disappear. In truth, the reverse occurred.
And so we’re right here in the present day and tomorrow – to take inventory – to study from consultants right here and from overseas, those that have lengthy thought-about, studied and analyzed drug insurance policies, their influence and effectiveness. And we’re right here, collectively, to contribute ourselves to the implementation of the joint dedication by:
  • Providing proof and information to help evidence-based insurance policies and techniques;
  • Collaborating and cooperating throughout totally different nations and various areas of experience – highlighted as being so essential by governments final yr;
  • Listening to 1 one other, respectfully, politely however participating too in sturdy alternate;
  • Developing proposals with and for the Government of the Philippines, different stakeholders, and the individuals of the Philippines – proposals on drug insurance policies and responses which are efficient, and sustainable, bearing in mind the nation’s particular scenario, historical past and contect, in addition to its a number of property and alternatives.
To take par in these exchanges is really a privilege and I thanks for it.
Let me finish by sharing a couple of extra private reflections.
Those of us who’re concerned in human rights works know solely too properly that we live in a world filled with intense disruption. Its signs and its foot print is there for all to see; obvious all over the place. Climate, individuals motion, globalized financial system and globalized crime…however it is usually the case that there’s too is a disruption of norms and values.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’advert Al Hussein, has typically lamented the caustic penalties of those disruptions: It will not be merely that human rights are abused – they continuously have been.
What is phenomenal is the indisputable fact that the very concept of human rights is being questioned and in lots of locations rejected. And that constitutes a marked alteration of the environment globally and domestically, probably the most vital human rights improvement since the institution of the trendy world and common human rights system at the finish of world conflict two.
The assaults we’re witnessing on common, indivisible rights; the undermining of equality, dignity, and accountability – share similarities wherever they happen:
  • There is an in depth software – even advocacy – of a doctrine of world conflict
  • A sure conception of safety, narrowly outlined and in opposition to real human safety, is taking maintain,
  • A blurring if distinctions between combatants and non-combatants; and an ever broadening understanding if the “enemy,” together with the enemy inside.
More crucially nonetheless this rejection of human rights is based on a rejection of our frequent humanity.
The rejects – those who do not slot in, are usually not welcome, are to be rejected, criminalized, punished could differ from nation to nation, group to group, chief to chief – however res assured they’re all human.
  • They could also be migrants or refugees
  • They could also be the poor or the very poor, the homeless.
  • They are avenue kids
  • Indigenous individuals;
  • Political opponents or critics;
  • They are the different…and
  • They could also be drug customers or drug pushers.
Any considered one of these and so many others who, are for one motive or one other, denied their humanity and their human standing – their rights – to justice, to freedom or motion, to safety from power, to freedom of expression. Denied as proper holders, as residents.
These profoundly disturbing developments are occurring at the fingers of authorities that ought to and might know higher. Their demonization – and the unaccountable, empowerment of authority that accompanies it – pushes open a door onto an abyss – a void into which humanity has thrown itself earlier than with terrible penalties – as a result of, after all, one can not deny the humanity if some individuals with out shedding humanity for all individuals.
And so we’re right here in the present day.
I’m immensely grateful for this invitation, for giving me the unbelievable alternative to spend a while with you.
Over the final eight months since I’ve been appointed UN Special Rapporteur I’ve watched from afar, however by no means from too far. I’ve adopted testimonies of the kinfolk of victims, I’ve seen the courageous work of civil society actors, legal professionals, human rights defenders, teachers, senators, I’ve heard debates between politicians, explanations by authorities officers, and certainly I’ve watched footage too of police and army males – and all saying there are different methods; higher methods; different choices, and higher choices.
This forum, with the dedication and the good will of all events, from the authorities to civil society, from the police to the well being sector – is a crucial benchmark to shine the mild of scrutiny, of truth discovering, of data, of proof – neutral and true – in order that we could search extra clearly our strategy to stopping, responding, supporting.
This mild of proof will assist establish and implement the very best drug/anti drug insurance policies, and interventions. That mild will lead – to proper upheld, fulfilled and loved for and by all.
An American vp Hubert Humphrey as soon as noticed “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life”.
People dwelling in life’s shadows are to not be deserted there.
We are to not be deserted there.
I’m deeply honored to have been concerned on this journey with you and deeply dedicated to proceed on that journey with you, starting with these two days convention.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

An answer to failure of Duterte, from his Vice-President

Why not decriminalize drug use? VP urges gov’t to study Portugal move

Is decriminalizing drug use the better alternative to killing drug addicts?
Vice President Leni Robredo, who is banned by Duterte from his cabinet meetings, suggested on Friday that the Philippines look to the example of Portugal, which made the radical decision of decriminalizing drug use in 2001, leading to lower drug-related deaths and declines in drug abuse among its citizens.
Robredo was the guest at a forum in the University of the Philippines in Los Baños when she was challenged by a student to offer an alternative to the government’s deadly drug war, which has left thousands dead since last year.
She said the government should study the best practices by countries that found solutions to the drug menace, and cited Portugal as a “triumphant” example, according to a transcript of the exchange sent by her staff.
Robredo did not directly propose following the Portuguese government’s policy of decriminalizing drug use, but noted how the European nation dramatically shifted its focus from looking at drug abuse punitively to treating it as a health issue requiring treatment and reintegration.
She contrasted it with the failed drug campaigns by state forces in Latin America, most of which had focused on violent methods.
“If we only study the drug campaigns around the world, we will see that the countries that used violence in combating drugs never succeeded. Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico —these countries used force, they fought fire with fire. Many lives were lost but they were not successful,” she said in Filipino.
“Who were successful?” she asked the students.
“One of those is Portugal. What did Portugal do? Portugal found a system to combat drugs that was peaceful and orderly. They reformed their laws; they strengthened rehabilitation [of addicts]; they fixed their institutions responsible for rehabilitating. They were triumphant,” Robredo said.
Portugal decriminalized personal possession of all drugs in 2001.
This did not mean possessing drugs for personal use became legal, but rather, it was considered an administrative violation punishable by fines or community service.
According to the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, Portugal registered lower drug use levels than the European average since the decriminalization policy took effect in 2001.
Drug use also declined among those aged 15-24, the population most at risk of initiating drug use, the UK-based group said in a 2015 report.
“Overall, this suggests that removing criminal penalties for personal drug possession did not cause an increase in levels of drug use,” the foundation said. It noted, however, that besides decriminalization, Portugal instituted corresponding social and health reforms that aided the new drug policy.
“This tallies with a significant body of evidence from around the world that shows the enforcement of criminal drug laws has, at best, a marginal impact in deterring people from using drugs,” it said.
In the UP forum, Robredo said it was important to learn from the experience of other countries facing drug problems.
“Why don’t we look at the best practices and try them, because we have enough lessons in the past from other countries to determine what works and what doesn’t,” she said.
She said she wished to pursue community rehabilitation for drug dependents.
“Many of those who surrendered were not really drug dependents but occasional drug users. Why don’t we create a program for them?” she said.
Robredo noted how congested Philippine jails were, with more than half of the inmate population incarcerated for drug-related offenses.

Philippine Enquirer, 23rd April 2017

Robredo was elected Vice President independently of President Duterte and differs from him on most issues.