CHR says HB 7184 on presumption of guilt for drug suspects imperils rights
MANILA, Philippines — The proposed law that allows presumption of guilt for drug suspects “contravenes” a protected and universal human right, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Wednesday.
CHR expressed “serious concern” on House Bill No. 7184, which was finally approved in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, saying it endangers the basic principle of presumption of innocence until proven guilty which is a universal human right.
“Justifying the departure from safeguard and to assert that it serves the community’s interest exposes innocent individuals to wrongful accusations and abuse of authority,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.
The bill aims to strengthen drug control and prevention by amending the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. It seeks to provide legal presumptions on who is considered as importers, financiers, protectors, or coddlers of illegal drugs.
De Guia said the government must reconsider enacting a law that “might produce more problems than actually addressing the drug problem.”
“Instead of reversing the burden to prove the innocence of the accused, the CHR urges the government to ensure that its accountability mechanisms are working for the best interests of the people while looking into the drug problem holistically,” she said.
CHR also noted irregularities in the conduct of the Duterte administration’s drug war, which resulted in illegal arrests, wrongful convictions, and even deaths of innocent individuals in the pursuit of drug offenders.
“While CHR supports the efforts of the government to eradicate the illegal drug menace in the country, we have been staunch in emphasizing that it must be at all times in accordance with the rule of law and human rights standards,” it added.
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