German bishops join call for halt to killings in PH drug war

German bishops join call for halt to killings in PH drug war
Pope Francis meets with the bishops of Germany during their ad limina visit to the Vatican, Nov. 20, 2015. L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO

MANILA— Another non-Filipino collegial body of Catholic bishops added its voice to a growing chorus of world leaders protesting the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

Archbishop Ludwig Schick, head of the German bishops’ Commission on International Church Affairs, said they support the Philippine Catholic hierarchy in its appeal to uphold values of human rights in the country.

The prelate stressed they are one with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in calling for the “observance of human rights in the fight against drugs and an end to extrajudicial killings”.

The German bishops are also “exceptionally concerned” about the Duterte administration’s efforts to reimpose the capital punishment in the Philippines.

“It would be a major blow to human rights in this country and to the global efforts to abolish the death penalty,” said Schick.

Even the proposed lowering of the age of criminal liability from 15-years old to nine years old, a priority of the Duterte government, is a major concern for the German church leaders.

Echoing the CBCP’s stand, they said these changes are unacceptable, especially in view of the Philippines’ membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In a letter, the bishops also called on German Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel “to step up the critical dialogue” with the Duterte administration “in the current, politically decisive phase”.

Schick, the Archbishop of Bamberg, also asked the German government to ensure that human rights situation in the Philippines “does not deteriorate”.

Earlier, the Austrian Catholic Bishops’ Conference joined the CBCP in criticizing alleged human rights abuses in the Philippines as a result of the government’s bloody war on drugs.

The Austrian bishops also said they share the “fundamental concerns” of their Filipino counterparts and “support their firm advocacy for justice”.

Most recently, despite government’s denial of a state policy on extrajudicial killings, 45 of the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council urged the Philippines to end killings, investigate and hold those responsible accountable. CBCPNews