Drug killings: UN special rapporteur sets terms for probe
The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings has asked the Duterte administration to guarantee her unfettered access in investigating the spate of deaths in its bloody war on illegal drugs.
Agnes Callamard, responding to an invitation from President Rodrigo Duterte, said she wanted assurance of freedom of movement and security in her talks with officials, witnesses and individuals and in her visits to detention facilities, among many others.
Sen. Bam Aquino said during his sponsorship presentation Wednesday night of the P16.59-billion budget next year of the Department of Foreign Affairs that Mr. Duterte’s invitation to Callamard had conditions, including a public debate.
“She has responded already with her own conditions, and now the interagency body has been created to discuss each of the parties’ conditions,” Aquino said.
Sen. Leila de Lima, who is among those calling for the UN investigation, had inquired about the status of Mr. Duterte’s invitation, prompted by the criticism of his war on drugs that had incensed him.
Mr. Duterte at one point had threatened to take the Philippines out of the United Nations.
Callamard’s conditions, read out by Aquino, included:
A similar invitation to the UN special rapporteur on health.
Freedom of movement, including facilitation of transport, in particular, to restricted areas.
Freedom of inquiry with regard to access to all prisons, detention centers and places of interrogation.
Contacts with central and local authorities.
Contacts with representatives of nongovernment organizations, private institutions and the media.
Confidential and unsupervised contact with witnesses and other private persons, including persons deprived of their liberty considered necessary to fulfill the mandate of her job.
Full access to all documentary material.
Assurance by the government that persons, whether officials or private individuals who have been in contact with her, will not suffer threats or punishment or be subjected to judicial proceedings.
Security arrangements without restricting movements.
Aquino said among Mr. Duterte’s conditions to Callamard was a “public debate,” even as he conceded to De Lima that this was an unusual request.
“It is not usual but, of course, it is our right to also ask for these conditions as other conditions have been asked of us,” he told De Lima.
Asked if Callamard had accepted the request, Aquino said: “The UN special rapporteur has not replied on that specific provision.”
De Lima initiated a legislative inquiry into drug-related deaths, with thousands killed since the President launched
an unprecedented campaign against drugs.
The deaths include those killed in police operations, vigilante killings and other incidents of still uncertain circumstances.
But De Lima, for long a critic of the President, was ousted as chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights for her alleged bias against the President.
The new committee chair, Sen. Richard Gordon, is expected to release results of his investigation within the month after terminating the inquiry with several witnesses yet to testify.
He has said there is no proof that could link President Duterte to extrajudicial killings.
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