“If Australian Defence personnel are now going to ‘advise and assist’ the Philippines in the fight against ISIS, this is a perfect opportunity for Australia to bring pressure to bear on President Rodrigo Duterte to ensure civilians are protected in the conflict,” Amnesty International Australia’s Campaigns Manager Michael Hayworth said.
This follows reports that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop 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.