THREE United Nations human rights experts on Thursday renewed their call for the Duterte administration to carry out “prompt, impartial investigations” into the high number of killings associated with its bloody drug war that had seen thousands killed since the President took office last year.
Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Diego García-Sayán, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said the Duterte administration must bring the perpetrators to justice and thoroughly review its current policy in this regard with a view to stopping further attacks taking place.
“A great number of new cases have been reported to us involving the killings of men, women and children,” the three Special Rapporteurs said in a joint statement.
“Many of the killings appear to be perpetrated by law enforcement officials and by unknown assailants. This seems to indicate a climate of official, institutional impunity, which can only encourage further killings and other excessive use of lethal force by law enforcement personnel or those acting on their behalf or with their acquiescence.”
But Malacañang on Thursday slammed Callamard saying she should not come to the Philippines “when uninvited.”
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement in response to questions about Callamard and President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statement that he would slap the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings if she would probe the administration’s war on drugs.
“I reiterate the position that the President should be taken seriously but not literally,” Roque said.
The rapporteurs said the government was required to protect its population and take effective measures to protect the right to life in light of the unresolved number of killings under the guise of the anti-drug campaign.
“We call on the government to urgently introduce appropriate measures to stop these attacks and killings being carried out.”
The experts also expressed concern that the exact number of victims was unknown owing to changes in terminology and conflicts in official reporting, and about the limited number of investigations under way.
Earlier this week, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights made a strongly-worded attack condemning the attacks and threats made by Duterte and his supporters against one of its special rapporteurs.
Justice was essential to combating impunity, the office said, noting that relatives had the right to access all relevant information and to receive appropriate reparation.
“States are under an obligation to conduct effective investigations,” the Special Rapporteurs said.
“For an investigation to be effective, it must be conducted promptly. It must be impartial and independent, it should lead to holding perpetrators accountable and relatives must be involved.”
Some lawyers, human rights defenders and judges working on the cases have suffered harassment and threats as a result, the Special Rapporteurs said.
Callamard earned Duterte’s ire after saying his bloody drug war should be investigated due to reports of state-sanctioned killings of drug suspects.
According to police statistics, some 3,906 drug personalities had been killed and 113,932 arrested in the government’s war on drugs. Rights groups, however, claim that those killed numbered thousands more.