PH, 27 other states want ‘impartial’ UN rights probe
The Philippines has called on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to order its special rapporteurs and independent experts to conduct themselves “professionally and impartially” when investigating human rights abuses.
Sidestepping the Duterte administration’s repeated criticisms of UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard, the Philippines joined 27 other countries in formally asking the UN body to direct its investigators to act “in good faith.”
The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and 18 other states made the call in separate joint statements they issued during the UNHRC’s 36th session that concluded on Sept. 29 in New York.
The Philippines is a member of the 47-member UNHRC based in Geneva, Switzerland.
“The Philippines attaches high significance to the work of the special rapporteurs and independent experts, and fully supports discussions to strengthen the integrity and credibility of the special procedures mechanism of the Human Rights Council,” the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Evan Garcia, said in a statement.
Garcia said certain states had raised concerns that several special rapporteurs and independent experts violated the code of conduct of their office.
Without mentioning Callamard, he said certain UN special rapporteurs went “beyond their mandates, delivering politically biased and unsubstantiated public statements and using uncorroborated and sometimes false information.”
A UN special rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the UNHRC to examine and report back on a country’s human rights situation or a specific issue. The position is honorary, so the expert is not paid for his work.
The UNHRC has appointed some 80 independent human rights experts to assist it in monitoring human rights in different parts of the world.
Mounting deaths, impunity
President Duterte has crossed swords several times with Callamard over the mounting deaths and police impunity in the administration’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres on Sept. 29 in New York that the Philippines would not allow Callamard to investigate the drugs-related killings because she was supposedly biased and “in league with the political opposition.”
Malacañang formally invited Callamard to the country in September last year after international and local groups began calling for a UN investigation into the extrajudicial killings.
But Malacañang withdrew the invitation and instead imposed conditions, including a public debate between Mr. Duterte and Callamard.
Callamard said the conditions violated the protocol laid down by the UNHRC and that she could not publicly debate on matters told in confidentiality during the investigation.
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