The Turnbull government has denounced Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs that has left thousands dead, declaring Canberra is "deeply concerned" about reports of extrajudicial killings.
Tanya Bennett, Australia's deputy permanent representative at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, rejected the Philippine government's claims there have been no state-sponsored killings, noting "credible allegations of involvement by elements of the Philippine national police."
Countries across the world demanded an end to the killings on Monday as the Philippines faced a four-yearly review in the 47-member council.
Almost 8,000 Filipinos, including children as young as five, have been killed since Mr Duterte took office last June in what human rights groups describe as mass murder and crimes against humanity.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly urged the killing of drug users and pushers. Photo: Bullit MarquezAustralia also urged Mr Duterte's administration to abandon plans to re-introduce the death penalty, including for drug-related crimes.
The stand comes only weeks after foreign minister Julie Bishop travelled to Mr Duterte's hometown of Davao in a diplomatic gesture that was condemned by human rights campaigners.
Ms Bishop said later Mr Duterte was unapologetic about the killings.
"He is determined to rid the Philippines of ice (methamphetamines) and he will stop at nothing," she said.
Police surround protesters at a rally to protest the continuing killings under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. Photo: BULLIT MARQUEZAustralia's statement at the council was among the strongest condemnation of the Philippines over the crackdown that included calls to "end extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, torture and harassment."
Germany called on the Philippines to take "all necessary measures" to stop the killings and the Vatican said reports of forced disappearances were "deeply troubling."
China however offered support to Mr Duterte, declaring drugs "the public enemy of mankind," despite much of the drugs arriving in the Philippines believed to be smuggled from China.
In opening remarks at the council, Filipino Senator Alan Cayatano defended his country's human rights record and showed video of Mr Duterte accusing critics of smearing his government's record.
Senator Cayatano denied there are state-sponsored killings in the Philippines or a "sudden wave" of killings.
"Make no mistake…one death or any death or killing is one too much," he said.
"However, there is a deliberate attempt to include all homicides as extrajudicial killings related to the campaign against criminality and illegal drugs and that those are state-sponsored, which is absolutely not true."
Senator Cayatano pleaded with council representatives to visit the Philippines.
"At all times, the Duterte government seeks to uphold the rule of law," he said.
Human rights and media groups, including Fairfax Media, have documented scores of killings believed to have been carried out or organised by Philippine security forces.
They include the strangling to death of a South Korean businessman inside Philippine national police headquarters.
Mr Duterte has repeatedly urged the killing of drug users and pushers.
"My order is to shoot to kill you. I don't care about human rights, you better believe me," he said in August last year.
Police claim thousand of deaths occurred when suspects attempted to resist arrest while others were supposedly targeted by unknown assassins.
Few people have been arrested over the killings and none have been brought to justice.
Bodies are still piling up in Philippine funeral parlours in what has become the largest number of civilian deaths in south-east Asia since Cambodia's genocide in the 1970s.
John Fisher, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch, said the Philippines is facing a growing chorus of international concern at the human cost of the crackdown.
"The government's denial and deflection of criticism shows it has no intention of complying with its international obligations," he said.
"The Human Rights Council should establish an international inquiry and, if killings with accountability continue, reconsider the Philippines' council membership."
Australia is lobbying to be elected to the human rights council for a two-year term from 2018.
Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.