Cayetano rues Iceland FM’s call for rights abuse probe

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano speaks at the

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday said he had conveyed his “serious disappointment” to Iceland Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson for speaking on behalf of 40 countries in calling for the United Nations to investigate the widespread rights abuses in the Duterte administration’s antinarcotics campaign.

The two diplomats met on Wednesday on the sidelines of the 37th session of the 47-member nation UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

Cayetano had delivered a speech attacking Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings, for supposedly having prejudged President Duterte, as well as human rights groups for spreading misinformation.

40 countries

Thordarson, on the other hand, announced that Iceland took pride in leading 40 countries that called out the Philippines for human rights violations committed in the campaign against illegal drugs.

He also urged the Philippines to allow Callamard to visit the country without condition or limitation so she could conduct an assessment of the country’s human rights situation.

Cayetano said he expressed his “serious disappointment” to Thordarson over the latter’s remarks.

He said he invited Iceland’s foreign minister to visit Manila, adding that  he could get Thordarson to change his views about the human rights situation in the Philippines.

“After explaining why the Philippines has to undertake the campaign against illegal drugs, I told Foreign Minister Thordarson not to take my word for it and that it would be best if he could come and visit so he could see the situation for himself,” Cayetano said in a statement.

Situation reversed

He said he told Thordarson that the Philippines would have appreciated if Iceland heard its side first before arriving at a conclusion.

“I am sure your society also has its own challenges, but if our situation were reversed, you would feel the same way we feel right now,” Cayetano recalled telling the foreign minister.

He said the Philippines was ready to receive independent experts who could make an impartial assessment of the human rights situation in the country, but had to close the door on Callamard for her supposed bias against the Duterte administration.