UN rapporteurs urge PH gov't to stop drug war killings

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 24 2017 10:25 PM

A gun is seen on the hand of one of two alleged drug pushers who were killed after allegedly fighting it out with police in Tondo, Manila. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

Palace says UN human rights experts are 'biased individuals'

MANILA- United Nations human rights experts called on the Philippine government to end killings under President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotics campaign.

A joint statement released Thursday, Nov. 23, by UN special rapporteurs Agnes Callamard, Michel Forst and Diego García-Sayán urged the government to introduce measures to stop attacks and killings under Duterte's war on drugs and bring perpetrators to justice.

"We call on the Government to urgently introduce appropriate measures to stop these attacks and killings being carried out,” the experts said.

“The Philippines is required to protect its population, and its Government has a positive obligation to take effective measures to protect the right to life. Failure to do so is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," they added.

The administration has repeatedly defended the drug war, saying the more than 3,900 drug suspects killed in police operations since July 1, 2016 had put up violent resistance, prompting officers to defend themselves. More than 2,000 homicide cases have been found to be drug-related. 

Earlier this week, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called out President Duterte for his threats against Callamard. Malacañang responded by telling Callamard not to come to the Philippines uninvited.

Callamard had earlier sought to visit the Philippines to look into the country's human rights situation but later on rejected an invitation from the government as it comes with conditions, such as holding a public debate with the President.

"A great number of new cases" including killings of men, women, and children have also been reported to the UN experts, many of which they said "appear to be perpetrated by law enforcement officials and by unknown assailants."

The UN experts also expressed concerns that the exact number of victims is unknown given the changes in terminology and conflicts in official reporting. 

They also called upon the government to conduct prompt and effective investigations into the killings and to give access to information to relatives of victims.

“For an investigation to be effective, it must be conducted promptly. It must be impartial and independent, it should lead to holding perpetrators accountable, and relatives must be involved,” they said.

The rapporteurs said they have raised their concerns to the government and have offered assistance to protect human rights in the Philippines.

'BIASED INDIVIDUALS'

Malacañang, meanwhile, slammed the UN rapporteurs’ joint statement, calling the three "biased individuals" who were "concocting falsehoods" to "bully States."

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement reiterated that the government does not condone extrajudicial and vigilante killings, and does not tolerate human rights violations as well.

"Even as we continue to respect the UN Special Procedures mechanism, we will not allow these biased individuals parading themselves as human rights experts to abuse such a mechanism to bully States by concocting falsehoods," Roque said on Friday.

"We reiterate that the current administration does not - and will never - condone extrajudicial and vigilante killings and does not tolerate human rights violations," he added.

Roque cited the relief of the entire Caloocan Police District from service following violations in the conduct of police operations, as an example that the government probes and punishes erring policemen.

"We believe that accountability is an indispensable part of good governance and the President himself made a clear stance that legitimate operations follow protocols," he said.

"We therefore decry the Special Rapporteurs who signed the joint statement for making negative assumptions about the country despite our explanations to the contrary," he added.