'Example to the world' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:56 AM, January 19, 2019

'Example to the world'

Lankan president praises Duterte's drugs war; rights groups express alarm

Human rights groups yesterday expressed alarm at Sri Lanka's leader for praising Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his bloody war on drugs as an "example to the whole world".

Despite international condemnation of a crackdown that has killed thousands of Filipinos, visiting Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena told Duterte during a banquet this week that he wanted to "follow your footsteps to control this hazard".

Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher for the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said Duterte's campaign was "a human rights calamity that no country in the world should even try to emulate".

"No 'drug war' that treated the drug problem purely from a crime perspective has ever succeeded," he said. "What they have wrought are untold suffering and the further destruction of the rule of law and the diminution of human rights".

The Philippine government has consistently refuted that and said the crackdown, which started in July 2016, was being administered lawfully.

Yesterday, presidential spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said any allegations of state-sponsored killings were "pure hogwash".

Police say they have since killed at least 5,000 suspected drug dealers, although activists say the number could be far higher and they dispute official accounts that the killings were all in self-defence.

More than 200 people in Bangladesh have been killed by police in a similar campaign.

International drug smugglers have increasingly turned to Sri Lanka as a transit hub in Asia, authorities there have said.

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