Nations critique Filipino leader’s rights record at UN body

Nations critique Filipino leader's rights record at UN body

GENEVA — A Filipino senator briskly defended the human rights record of President Rodrigo Duterte’s government before a U.N. body on Monday, saying his government always “seeks to uphold the rule of law” while critical Western nations aired concerns about deadly vigilante justice and extrajudicial killings in the country.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano came before the U.N.’s Human Rights Council equipped with a slide show and video excerpts of previous comments by Duterte about the Philippines’ fight against illegal drug trafficking, repeating claims that critics are smearing the Filipino government’s record and urging a distinction between “fake news” and real news.

“One: There is no state-sponsored killing in the Philippines. Two: There is no sudden wave of killings,” Cayetano said. “We are asking you — through the mechanisms of this honourable council — to interview our people, to go to our communities, to visit the Philippines and to see for yourself: The truth, the real numbers.”

“At all times, the Duterte government seeks to uphold the rule of law,” he added.

Cayetano was speaking Monday at a review of Philippines human rights record at the council, part of a process known as the Universal Periodic Review of all 193 U.N. member states. The Philippines currently has a seat on the 47-member council which also includes Britain, China, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump set off an uproar in Washington by inviting Duterte to the White House, despite rights groups’ criticism of his anti-crime campaign. Human Rights Watch says it has left over 7,000 suspected drug dealers and users dead since Duterte took office in June; the Manila government contests that figure.

The two-week UPR session focuses of 14 countries including Britain, India and South Africa. Following Cayetano’s opening remarks, delegations had one minute to comment on the Philippines’ record and make recommendations. Such reviews are mostly used to spotlight alleged abuses and urge countries to honour their rights obligations.

Some countries praised the Philippines’ efforts: A Chinese delegate cited Cayetano’s “very convincing” remarks and challenges faced by China and other “developing countries” to fight the drugs trade. Several Western countries in particular raised concerns about violence against journalists, the prospects of a reinstated death penalty, and extrajudicial killings.

Deputy Permanent Representative Tanya Bennett of Australia said her country was “deeply concerned” about the reports of extrajudicial killings linked to the “so-called war on drugs, noting credible allegations of involvement by elements of the Philippine national police.”

Germany’s envoy called for the Philippines to take “all necessary measures” to stop extrajudicial killings, and the Vatican said reports of enforced disappearances were “deeply troubling.”

Cayetano argued that critics altered the definition of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines from that used under previous governments, insisting: “Suddenly, ‘extrajudicial killing’ refers to any death outside those causes by natural causes, accidents, or those ordered by courts — and we do not have the death penalty, so none are ordered by courts.”

“Make no mistake … one death or any death or killing is one too much,” he added. “However, there is a deliberate attempt to include all homicides as ‘EJKs’ or killings related to the campaign against criminality and illegal drugs — and that these are state-sponsored, which is absolutely not true.”

He said more than 1.2 million drug pushers and users have surrendered “voluntarily” and are “being rehabilitated.”

Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Sooke’s Canada 150 Pageant has historical roots

20 skits planned to lay out history of the region

VicPD officers hurt in separate weekend incidents

Both altercations involved aggressive individuals encountered by police

Material spill slows traffic on Highway 1 near Victoria

You may experience heavier traffic than normal if you’re headed from Victoria… Continue reading

Pumpkin Lady carves Halloween niche

Sooke artist puts new spin on jack-o-lanterns

Victoria couple hope unmanned boat drone becomes first to cross Atlantic

Colin and Julie Angus, UVic scientists to have drone collect environmental data en route

Flu could see greater transmission in 2017

Health asking the public to get their flu vaccinations leading into a flu season that could start early and affect many in 2017.

B.C. NDP convention set for Victoria

Premier, federal leader Jagmeet Singh to add energy

Silver Creek farm search expands north

RCMP were seen collecting evidence three kilometres north of the farm where human remains were found

Flu could see greater transmission in 2017

Health asking the public to get their flu vaccinations leading into a flu season that could start early and affect many in 2017.

Nanaimo man assaulted, tied up and robbed at his home

Incident occurred about 7 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23 at a home on Beverly Drive

B.C. school trustee calls LGBTQ school program ‘weapon of propaganda’

Chilliwack’s Barry Neufeld published the comments on his Facebook page

B.C. casino accused of illegal activity follows rules: operator

B.C. had launched review after concerns about money laundering at River Rock casino in Richmond

Opponents of LGBTQ program to file human rights complaint against Surrey School District

District denied Parents United Canada right to rent Bell Performing Arts Centre for rally next month

Red hot Vikes women to host playoff opener

UVic Vikes This Week: basketball season kicks off at home

Most Read