PH to consult UN on conduct of rights probe – DFA
MANILA — The Philippine government will not restrict the United Nations rapporteurs who will visit the country to investigate alleged cases of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings of drug suspects.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has maintained that both sides will consult and agree on the terms of reference of the UN rapporteurs’ visit, and that consultations will be “two way.”
“It is a product of a consultation, it’s not a one way street, there’s a two-way discussion, consultation. At the end, both sides have to agree to this terms of reference. That’s the established protocol that has to be observed,” said DFA spokesperson Charles Jose.
Jose issued the statement in reaction to Sen. Leila de Lima’s claim that the government has been restrictions on the UN and other investigators from international bodies it plans to invite to check on President Duterte’s war on drugs.
De Lima said she found it questionable that the government would decide which places to visit and the persons to be interviewed by the foreign probers.
More than 3,000 have died in legitimate police operations as well as summary executions as the Duterte administration waged a bloody war against illegal drugs.
Duterte said he would personally invite the UN rapporteurs and other international organizations to investigate the alleged killings.
In a press briefing in Malacañang on Monday, Jose said the DFA was still waiting for the letter of invitation which they would transmit to the United Nations.
He said there has been no effort to restrict or censor the movements of the UN rapporteurs who would visit the Philippines.
“The rapporteurs can suggest places that they want to visit, people that they would like to talk to, and the UN country team can arrange those visits for them. Either the UN country team or the Philippine government, but it has to be by mutual agreement,” Jose said.
Asked if the foreign probers would be allowed to investigate even in the country’s slums, the DFA spokesperson pointed out that the UN team’s safety would be among the government’s concerns.
“We have to be sure that the places they will visit will be safe,” he said.
Once the DFA transmits the invitation to the UN, the consultations will formally begin to discuss the terms of reference of the visit, which must be agreed upon by both sides, according to Jose.
Jose said they would clarify with Malacañang the next step to take regarding the invitation to the UN investigation team.
The terms of reference may also include Duterte’s wish to personally face the UN rapporteurs to answer and ask questions.
“That is what the President wants so I think we will be including that in the TOR… The DFA will be the lead agency for the visit of the UN special rapporteurs,” Jose said. SFM
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