A UN rights investigator made a surprise visit to the Philippines


Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, addresses a narcotics forum at a state-run university in Manila on May 5, 2017
Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on
extrajudicial killings, addresses a narcotics forum at a
state-run university in Manila on May 5, 2017

© AFP TED ALJIBE

Manila (AFP) – The United Nations’ special rapporteur on
extrajudicial killings condemned Friday the use of violence to
combat illegal drugs, as she made a surprise visit to the
Philippines that angered President Rodrigo Duterte.

Agnes Callamard had since last year wanted to travel to the
Philippines to investigate Duterte’s drug war, which has claimed
thousands of lives and led to warnings he may be orchestrating a
crime against humanity.

In a speech at a state-run Manila university, Callamard warned of
the many pitfalls of governments globally adopting violent
responses to illegal drugs, and said she had been watching events
in the Philippines closely.

“The ‘war on drugs’ does not work,” Callamard said.

She praised people in the Philippines who had spoken out against
Duterte’s drug war.

“I have followed testimonies of the relatives of victims, I have
seen the brave work of civil society actors, lawyers, human
rights defenders, academics, senators.

“I have heard debates between politicians, explanations by
government officials, and indeed I have watched footage too of
police and military men – and all saying there are other ways;
better ways; other options, and better options.”

Duterte’s government appeared to be caught off guard by
Callamard’s unannounced trip, and said it would lodge a protest
with the United Nations because she had not organized the visit
through official channels.

“(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 spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a
statement.

Duterte last year invited Callamard to visit the Philippines to
investigate the killings, but set strict conditions including a
demand that she have a public debate with him on the drug war.

Callamard refused to come under those conditions. 


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces the disbandment of police operations against illegal drugs at the Malacanang palace in Manila, Philippines early January 30, 2017. Picture taken January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Ezra Acayan
Philippine
President Rodrigo Duterte announces the disbandment of police
operations against illegal drugs at the Malacanang palace in
Manila

Thomson
Reuters


She told reporters in a brief statement on Friday that she did
not travel to the Philippines to conduct a UN investigation —
she said she was merely taking part in the academic forum. 

However she did meet with various human rights campaigners and
lawyers while in the Philippines, including some who organized
the forum.

Duterte was elected last year largely on a law-and-order platform
in which he promised to eradicate illegal drugs in the
Philippines by killing tens of thousands of people.

Since then, police have reported killing 2,692 people in
anti-drug operations.

They say unspecified parties have murdered another 1,847 people
in drug-related incidents, while 5,691 other violent deaths are
under investigation.

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