Palace hits Callamard, to raise unannounced visit before UN
Malacañang on Friday expressed disappointment over the unannounced visit of United Nation (UN) Special Rapporteur Dr. Agnes Callamard in the Philippines.
“We are aware that Dr. Callamard is currently in the Philippines and we are disappointed that, in not contacting our government in advance of this visit, she has sent a clear signal that she is not interested in getting an objective perspective on the issues that are the focus of her responsibility,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
Callamard is in the country after she was invited to speak at a policy forum on illegal drugs.
During the forum, she said that “war on drugs does not work,” and that “badly thought out drug policies” only breed more problems.
Abella questioned the timing of Callamard’s visit “at the very time our government has a senior-level delegation traveling to Geneva to meet with officials of the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as part of the 3rd Cycle of the Universal Period Review of the Philippines and the issue of human rights.”
“Our position is very clear, if Dr. Callamard is committed to ensuring due process to our government and a truly objective assessment of our record on an issue of tremendous importance to our nation, she should be in Geneva meeting with our representatives,” he said.
The Palace official said Malacanang sent a letter to Callamard on September 26, 2016, inviting her to the Philippines to witness the government’s war on drugs which she heavily opposed.
“Our hope at that time was that Dr. Callamard would accept this invitation as part of a commitment to carry out her new responsibilities in a manner that was objective and fair to all perspectives on this important issue,” he said.
READ: Invitation sent to UN to probe drug killings — Palace
But Abella said Callamard did not respond to the invitation.
“The fact that Dr. Callamard did not respond to our invitation showed that she would not be approaching her review of allegations concerning our country objectively or comprehensively,” he said.
He said the invitation to Callamard to visit the Philippines “makes it clear that we respected her as a professional and we very much wanted her to see the situation on the ground first-hand and engage in an exchange of views with officials in our government to understand our position on the issue of human rights and the progress being made in the Philippines.”
“Her actions since then, and the circumstances surrounding her current visit, have made it clear that Dr. Callamard is not approaching her assignment professionally or objectively,” Abella said.
He said the Philippine team in Geneva would raise the issue before the UN, saying Callamard’s actions were unprofessional.
“This is a matter we have asked our representatives at the United Nations to take up with their United Nations counterparts and it is something our delegation in Geneva will certainly be raising during their current visit,” he said.
“Our commitment to carrying out the President’s social justice agenda remains as strong as our commitment to ensuring that our nation is freed from the damage done daily to millions of our people by the proliferation of illegal drugs throughout our country,” he added. “The goals associated with these commitments are complementary and the efforts to achieve them are being carried out in a manner that respects our laws.” IDL/rga
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