Davao death squads

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The Davao Death Squads or DDS, is a vigilante group active in Davao City in the Philippines. The group is allegedly responsible for summary executions of delinquents and drug traffickers in Davao. As of August 2, 2004 the Mindanao Times counted 52 summary-killing incidents involving the DDS. [1] The International Herald Tribune reports that in the first three months of 2005 there were 72 executions.[2]

A team from Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance, a human rights group, and investigators from the Commission on Human Rights discovered killing fields where skeletal remains of victims of the death squads were dumped.[3] Human Rights Commissioner Dominador Calamba II has indicated that local executives and the police knew the criminals but were "seemingly tolerating" them.[4] Human rights groups said the killings have become an unwritten government policy to deal with crime.[2]

In the April 2009 UN General Assembly of the Human Rights Council, the UN report (Eleventh Session Agenda item 3, par 21) said, "The Mayor of Davao City has done nothing to prevent these killings, and his public comments suggest that he is, in fact, supportive."[5]

Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte responding to the reported arrest and subsequent release of a notorious drug lord in Manila is quoted as saying: "Here in Davao, you can’t go out alive. You can go out, but inside a coffin. Is that what you call extra-judicial killing? Then I will just bring a drug lord to a judge and kill him there, that will no longer be extra-judicial." [6]

According to Amnesty International and local human rights groups, since 1998 over 300 people have been killed in Davao City by death squads.[7] Amnesty International states, killings and extrajudicial executions continued throughout the year, particularly of criminal suspects. In Mindanao many such killings, including those of minors, were attributed to the so-called “Davao Death Squad” vigilante group. It was reported that local officials in some areas advocated a “shoot to kill” policy with respect to criminal suspects resisting arrest.[8] In 2004, thousands of people protested the killings in a "walk for peace" and ecumenical prayer service.[9]

A film depicting vigilante killings in the Philippines called Engkwentro, premiered in July 2009 at the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, where it received strong reactions. The film has since been selected as the only Filipino film to compete at the 66th Venice International Film Festival.[10]

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