Human Rights Watch said on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines may have committed crimes against humanity by inciting killings during his bloody antidrug campaign.

Thousands of people have been killed by the police or by vigilantes since Mr. Duterte became president in June, and rights groups say the police may have ordered the extrajudicial killings of drug dealers and users, a charge that officials have denied.

In a report released on Thursday, Human Rights Watch examined 32 deaths from October to January, all involving the Philippine National Police. Police reports asserted that officers had committed the killings in self-defense, but witnesses characterized them as “coldblooded murders of unarmed drug suspects in custody,” the rights group’s study said.

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Thumbnail: Flickr CC Ilocos Norte