United Nations: Duterte ‘lacks understanding’ of rights


MANILA: The United Nations has said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has a “striking lack of understanding” of its human rights institutions in a rebuke over his crime war that has killed more than 3,000 people.

The fresh criticism came from UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein after Duterte called UN head Ban Ki-moon a “fool” and threatened to pull out of the organization in response to the global body’s condemnation of alleged extra judicial killings in his anti-drug campaign.

The sharp-tongued Duterte has said he does not “give a shit” about a wave of international criticism, including from the UN and US President Barack Obama.

“The President of the Philippines’s statements of scorn for international human rights law display a striking lack of understanding of our human rights institutions and the principles which keep societies safe,” Zeid said at a speech in Geneva on Tuesday.

Duterte, 71, has launched an unprecedented crime war since taking office on June 30, warning the Philippines is in danger of becoming a “narco-state”.

He was elected in a landslide in May after pledging to kill 100,000 criminals and promising to protect police from prosecution if they are charged over the deaths.

Last month, Duterte announced a “shoot-to-kill” order against drug dealers. “This campaign (of) shoot-to-kill will remain until the last day of my term if I’m still alive by then,” he said.

Zeid said such an order “undermines justice”.

But on Wednesday, Philippine Ambassador to the UN Cecilia Rebong said Duterte never empowered police to shoot to kill anyone.

“What he said was the police have the right to defend themselves when their lives are in danger,” Rebong told the UN Human Rights Council.

Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella added that Duterte did not tolerate extra judicial killings but that “human rights cannot be used as an excuse to let the spread of drugs in the country run rampant”.

Police reported Wednesday killing 1,506 people in anti-drug operations in just over two months since Duterte took office.

Another 1,715 were classified as “deaths under investigation”, referring to people killed in suspicious circumstances including those shot by suspected vigilantes or found dead with crude cardboard signs labeling them as drug traffickers.

Zeid urged the Philippines to invite a UN human rights expert to investigate the killings.

Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose was non-committal, saying UN rights experts already “jumped to conclusions”.

Duterte last month lashed out at UN special rapporteur on summary executions Agnes Callamard for saying his directives amounted to an international crime. AFP





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  1. Zeid of UN apparently is out of the loop over PH affairs but loves to talk just the same. Exactly like his kind who are used to getting their way by pushing their weight around. I wonder why he is silent against worse HR violations in other parts of the world like China, Syria, Russia, UK and even the US!

    I believe that nations and international institutions will earn love and respect only when they lead by good example; not by hiding under the aegis of the saying: “follow what I say; but don’t follow what I do”.

  2. Mike Laon-laang on

    you guys should get your facts straight – try not to be obvious of being partial to the president.

    you wrote:
    “He was elected in a landslide in May after pledging to kill 100,000 criminals and promising to protect police from prosecution if they are charged over the deaths.”

    you are omitting something important on president’s pronouncement. he said “policeman will not be accountable with deaths on this drug war so long “IT WAS DONE WHILE THEY ARE DOING THEIR JOB.”

    kayo kaya ang manghuli ng drug addict at pusher at dala nyo lang batuta. tingnan natin ang galing nyo. TALK IS CHEAP. we are tired of these flowery words – they don’t solve the problem.

    you guys are not there in the front line, you don’t even have the right to give any judgement because you don’t know what really transpired during police operations.

    next time – try to cover the operation and be there with the policeman – just to make your article believable. til then, lumalabas na MIRON lang kayo. mas marunong pa kayo kesa sa mga naglalaro. yun yung mga taong nakaka-asar. hope you get my drift