Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy site] on Friday released a report [press release] detailing humanitarian crisis incidents that may amount to war crimes in the Philippines. The report [report, PDF link] is titled ‘The Battle of Marawi’: Death and destruction in the Philippines and is a look at the five month battle that occurred in Marawi earlier this year. AI found that during the siege of Marawi[JURIST report], civilians were murdered while the the Philippine army battled the Islamic State for control. From being used as hostages to human shields only to escape and face torture, the civilians of Marawi faced circumstances that violated international humanitarian law (IHL).
Militants often executed Christians at de facto checkpoints, which the Christians were approaching in order to exit the city. Militants usually performed the killings with a pistol, a rifle, or by cutting the victim’s throat. Journalists have reported cases where civilians were beheaded. Most victims were shot and killed immediately after being questioned by the militants. Most victims were shot and killed while standing or kneeling on the ground; some were shot and killed while running away.
The instances of extrajudicial execution and other forms of direct targeting of civilians by militants documented in this report are clear violations of the cardinal rule of distinction in IHL and amount to war crimes.