US calls for respect of human rights amid drug killings in PH
Following tirades by President Rodrigo Duterte against United Nations rapporteurs criticizing summary killings of drug suspects, the US Department of State reminded the Philippines of its human rights obligations under international conventions, amid a rising number of drug-related killings.
US department of state deputy spokesperson Mark C. Toner said the US is a nation that strongly believes in the rule of law and due process and respect for human rights.
He said the message was made clear by US Secretary of state John Kerry when he met with Duterte last July in Manila. “He conveyed that message in his meetings with the President,” he said.
“We take any credible allegations of human rights violations very, very seriously,” US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark C. Toner said in a press briefing in Washington DC, Tuesday Manila time. “We’re very concerned—deeply concerned, I would say—about reports of extrajudicial killings of individuals suspected to have been involved in drug activity in the Philippines.”
Although the US has its share of law enforcement problems, Toner said “we believe in those ideals, and we also believe that those principles go a long way into promoting long-term security.”
Despite concerns on rights abuses in the war on drugs of the Philippine government, Toner said the US remains committed to strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries.
“First of all is that we have a long and enduring security relationship with the Philippines, and of course we’re seeking always to improve that relationship,” said Toner. “So I wouldn’t necessarily tie that in with anything else other than what it is, which is the Philippines remains an important partner in the region.”
Last Sunday, Duterte threatened to withdraw Philippine membership from the UN citing the unjust criticisms of UN rapporteurs.
UN special rapporteur on summary executions Agnes Callamard and UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health Dainius Pūras last Friday raised concern over the rapid increase of people being killed, reaching 650 of them in the last six weeks alone of the Duterte administration.
But Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. clarified on Monday that the President’s pronouncement was a mere “statement expressing profound disappointments and frustrations and it is not any way a statement that should indicate a threat to leave the United Nations.” RAM/rga
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