Philippines: Philippines: Australia must not become complicit in human rights abuses in assisting Duterte against Islamic State

“If Australia is to provide further support, including capacity building, to the Philippines in the fight against Islamic State, Defence Minister Marise Payne must get assurances from President Duterte that we will not inadvertently become complicit in any human rights abuses in the process,” Amnesty International Australia’s Campaigns Manager Michael Hayworth said.

“This closer cooperation obliges Australia to bring pressure to bear on President Rodrigo Duterte to ensure civilians are protected in the conflict.”

This follows an announcement today by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he and Defence Minister Marise Payne will be discussing the provision of further support with President Duterte. This in turn follows Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s announcement earlier this week that Australia has offered to deploy Australian Defence personnel to the Southern Philippines to “advise and assist” in President Duterte’s fight against regional ISIS forces.

“Amnesty International Australia has been appalled by reports back in June that the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte gave his troops an unequivocal license to kill civilians with impunity while fighting ISIS-aligned militants in Marawi.

“At a minimum, Australia should be leading calls on President Duterte to protect civilians and make sure that a proportionate response is taken to any alleged threat from extremist groups.”


Since President Duterte took office in the Philippines just over a year ago, there has also been an alarming human rights crisis sparked by his ‘War on Drugs’ that has reportedly killed thousands of suspected drug dealers, as well as an attempt to reintroduce the death penalty.