DFA tells U.N. body not to 'politicize' human rights


Posted at Feb 28 2018 02:33 AM

MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday told the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) not to "politicize or weaponize" the issue of human rights in the Philippines.

In a statement, the DFA said the Philippine government is willing to face investigation amid allegations of human rights violations under the government's drug war if "U.N. special rapporteurs strictly observe the special procedures code of conduct and methods of work and avoid politicizing the issue."

"When does the quest for human rights become a human wrong? It is when human rights is politicized and weaponized," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.

"All we ask for is fairness. There are 7.5 billion people in the world; send anyone except one who has already prejudged us, and who, by any measure, cannot be considered independent and more so, objective."

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday said he would recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte a different U.N. special rapporteur to conduct an investigation into the government’s war on drugs. 

Roque, the presidential adviser on human rights, claimed that Agnes Callamard, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, was unfit to conduct an "objective and unbiased" inquiry given her earlier statements against the government's anti-drug campaign. 

Cayetano also denounced nongovernmental organizations that, he said, "politicized the issue by waging a campaign of misinformation against the Philippines."

"We will not allow these NGOs to portray an unfair and unjust image of our country nor will we let them question the strength of our democracy," he said.

"Some of them have politicized and weaponized the issue for their own gain, putting their political and economic advocacies ahead of genuine human rights advocacies," he added.

This after the foreign minister of Iceland on Monday (Geneva time) urged the UNHRC to take further initiatives into investigations of human rights violations in the country under the administration's campaign against drugs.

The Duterte administration has denied involvement in summary killings and maintained that drug suspects slain in anti-narcotics operations had put up violent resistance. 

In late January, the Philippine National Police said nearly 4,000 drug suspects were killed in anti-drug operations between July 1, 2016, the start of the Duterte administration, and January 17, 2018.

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the U.N. system composed of 47 states responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. Based in Geneva, its members are elected by the U.N. General Assembly and serve for a three-year term.

The Philippines was elected a member of the HRC on October 28, 2015. Its term will expire this year.