Rare joint statement of UN rapporteurs calls for probe of PH killings
Some of the biggest names in human rights performing investigative tasks for the United Nations (UN) issued a rare joint statement on Friday, June 7, asking the UN to conduct an “independent investigation” of what the special rapporteurs said were “unlawful” deaths in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
They also called for a similar investigation of attacks on human rights defenders in the Philippines believed perpetrated by state forces.
The statement was in itself controversial as far as human rights issues are concerned because it was signed by some of the biggest names in human rights investigations by the UN.
They are Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Meskerem Geset Techane, chair of the working group of the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) on discrimination against women in law and in professional practice.
Hilal Elver, special UN rapporteur on the right to food; Michel Forst, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; David Kaye, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
Clément Nyaletsossi Voulé, special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, chair and rapporteur of the working group on the arbitrary detention of the UNHRC.
Dainius Pῡras, special rapporteur on the right to health; Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people.
Dubravka Šimonović, special rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences and Diego García-Sayán, special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.
Callamard has become a household name in the Philippines following Duterte’s repeated rant against her including a threat he made at a speech before Filipinos during a trip to Vietnam in 2017 to “slap her in front of you” because Callamard was “fucking me and I do not want it.”
The statement said the “scale and seriousness of the reported human rights violations” should prompt the UNHRC, composed of 47 nations, to “establish an independent investigation” in the Philippines.
“We have recorded a staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings in the context of the so-called war on drugs, as well as killings of human rights defenders,” the joint statement said.
“Very few independent and effective investigations have taken place, independent media and journalists are threatened, the law has been weaponized to undermine press freedom, and the independence of the judiciary is undermined,” it added.
The group raised concern over what it said was a rising number of killings in the Philippines which it said were carried out in “an apparent climate of official [and] institutional impunity.”
Cases of human rights violations, the rapporteurs said, had been brought to the attention of the Philippine government for the past three years to no avail.
“We have repeatedly brought to the attention of the [g]overnment cases alleging a range of gross human rights violations, such as extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, including of children, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, trade union and land rights activists,” it said.
“Sadly these cases are just the tip of the iceberg with many more cases being reported regularly,” it continued.
The group also raised alarm over “rising rhetoric” against critics of the Duterte administration.
It said the Duterte administration had shown “no indication” to investigate the abuse cases much less to bring perpetrators to justice.
“There are now thousands of grieving families in the Philippines. We call on the international community to do everything possible to ensure there will be no more,” the group said.
The group’s statement is likely to be met with more rants by Duterte who has repeatedly said “I don’t care about human rights.”
But Duterte did not just use words to retaliate against human rights advocates criticizing his bloodlust.
Last March, Duterte ordered a withdrawal of the Philippines from its membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague. (Editor: Tony Bergonia)
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