The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) appealed for a fair and transparent investigation into the case of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos who was killed in an antidrug police operation in Caloocan City, saying it should be undertaken as a matter of urgency.
UNICEF Representative Lotta Sylwander said in a statement on Tuesday night that the “investigation must be undertaken in a manner that seeks to guarantee the best interests of the children and promote respect for their rights.”
Sylwander stressed that UNICEF Philippines is ‘deeply concerned’ about the impact of the state’s war on drugs on Filipino children.
“The death of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos during the drug raid in Caloocan City and the circumstances of his untimely death in relation to the State’s war on drugs are deeply disturbing,” she added.
Sylwander extended her condolences to the Delos Santos Family, saying that those who are responsible for the killings must be held responsible.
“UNICEF offers its condolences to Kian’s family. We share their grief and the grief of all the families of children who have been killed, as well as of children who have lost parents, caregivers and relatives, during anti-drug operations,” Sylwander said.
“Those who are responsible for killings and deliberate violence against children must be held accountable,” she added.
She also said that the ‘best interests of children’ should be the guiding principle of every action made by government officials.
“Actions, no matter the motivation, that increase the risks children face or violate their rights are not in accordance with the responsibilities of signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Sylwander added.
She added that as a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of a Child, the Philippines has a legal and moral obligation to promote, protect, and fulfill the human rights of every child.
“Every child’s right to life, to develop to her or his full potential, to be heard, and to be protected from all forms of violence are universal and inalienable,” she declared. “There are no exceptions. These rights apply without qualification,” Sylwander said.
Sylwander added that UNICEF Philippines joins the many organizations and individuals in demanding for action to prevent more loss of children’s lives.
“There is no higher value for a society than to protect its own children and youth,” she noted.