A GLOBAL human rights watchdog has started a campaign to sanction human rights violators in the Philippines.  

The Magnitsky sanction campaign seeks to impose travel and financial bans on government officials who abetted the crimes, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The campaign will target “architects” of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s war on drugs. 

“The state of terror created by the Duterte regime is at the heart of this sanctions campaign,” former Australian Senator Lee Rhiannon said. 

“There is overwhelming evidence that the Duterte government has been responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people and national governments must act to sanction those who commit serious human rights violations to hold the architects of this terror to account.” 

The Magnitsky Act is a bipartisan bill passed by the US Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in Dec. 2012 that seeks to punish Russian officials responsible for the death of Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009. 

The bill, which applies globally, allows the US to sanction those deemed human rights offenders, freeze their assets and ban them from entering the US. Countries such as Canada and Australia have passed similar legislation. 

The campaign is a follow-up on a report conducted last year by Investigate PH, an independent human rights group, which alleged patterns of systemic human rights violations including crimes against humanity by the government. 

Last month, the coalition also started the International Observer Mission, a campaign that aims to monitor election-related violence in the Philippines this year. 

“In the absence of justice, in the absence of domestic and international accountability, the proposed Magnitsky measures would afford some level of justice for those guilty of these heinous crimes,” Ms. Rhiannon said. 

The campaign will collaborate with national parliaments and legislatures to take measures against alleged human rights violators, the watchdog said. 

Philippine prosecutors have filed charges in court against law enforcers in four cases and plan to investigate 250 more of what could have been wrongful deaths in the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra told the United Nations Human Rights Council last month. 

An inter-agency committee formed 15 teams last year that probed extralegal killings and human rights violations during these operations. — John Victor D. Ordoñez 

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