Side Event – “Drug-trafficking, Public Policy and Crimes Against Humanity- Discussing the situations in Mexico, the Philippines and Colombia

(hosted by Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH))

Overview by Vicki Tien, Research Associate PILPG NL


  • This side event focused on the public policy in relation to drug use and drug trafficking and the situations of human rights violations in this context in Colombia, the Philippines, and Mexico. 

  • All three countries have seen an increase in violence and impunity for the crimes committed. 

This side event focused on the public policy in relation to drug use and drug trafficking, as well as the commission of serious crimes in this context in Colombia, the Philippines, and Mexico. Speaker Jimena Reyes (International Federation for Human Rights), Speaker Ray Paul Santiago (Ateneo University School of law), Speaker Olga Guzman (Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights), and Speaker Juan Carlos Ospina (Commission Colombiana de Juristas) discussed public policy their countries.  

Juan Carlos Ospina first discussed the situation in Colombia. He noted that 8.4 million people have suffered from the armed conflict in Colombia, while several others have been victims of forced disappearance. However, there is a problem with inefficient structures to address the consequences of the armed conflicts in the country, he continued. Mr. Carlos said that the violations of human rights in Colombia are not only in the context of drug trafficking, but also in the case of gas issues.Mr. Carlos argued that the fight against drug trafficking by the government of Colombia has contributed to the commission of such crimes. These crimes against humanity, however, have been perpetrated by all the actors involved in the conflict. The Peace Agreement in Colombia has incorporated and acknowledged the need to address drug-trafficking. Nevertheless, the government of Colombia has failed to put the plans into practice. Mr. Carlos reiterated that the human rights crisis in Colombia is not only due to drug trafficking. Rather, economic hurdles and the problem of corruption are particularly relevant to the crisis. 

Speaker Ray Paul then addressed the relevant problem in the Philippines. Mr. Paul discussed the Double Barrel Project, which entails the neutralization of legal drug personalities nationwide in the Philippines. The project has stimulated the surrenders and imprisonment of several individuals related to drug use and trafficking. It has also fostered extrajudicial killings. Mr. Paul criticized that this project does not see the issue of drug-dependency from a health perspective. Instead, drug users are often vilified and demonized in front of the general public in the Philippines.

After Mr. Paul discussed the case of the Philippines, Speaker Jimena Reyes and Speaker Olga Guzman discussed the situation in Mexico. Ms. Guzman said that violence in Mexico has increased in the past decade. While Mexico’s institutions have been regarded as functioning properly, there has been a lack of political will as well as structural problems which have contributed to the difficulty of prosecuting high-ranking officials in the country. National security forces have been increasingly militarized. The increased participation of military forces has contributed to the intensification of violence. Crimes against humanity such as torture and forced disappearance have also been committed with impunity. 

Despite the fact that they are three different countries,the public policy in relation to drug use and drug trafficking and the situations of human rights violations in this context are a common thread to Colombia, the Philippines, and Mexico.