Philippines open to UN drugs war probe, if by 'credible, objective' investigator

More than 30 mostly Western countries have called on the Philippines to allow the UN expert, Agnes Callamard, to look into the thousands of killings

epa06260164 A personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) puts caution tape around seized equipment for the manufacture of illegal drugs, before a destruction procedure in Valenzuela City, north of Manila, Philippines, 12 October 2017. The PDEA destroyed seized chemicals, materials and equipment for manufacturing illegal drugs worth some 10.7-million pesos (176,000 euro) as part of an anti-illegal drugs campaign. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte issued a memorandum dated 10 October giving the PDEA sole responsibility to lead anti-illegal drugs operations in the country, effectively halting operations headed by the Philippine National Police and other government agencies concerned.  EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA
Powered by automated translation

The Philippines will allow an investigation into alleged human rights abuses in its bloody war on drugs, but not if it is conducted by the United Nations' current special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, a senior official said on Tuesday.

More than 30 mostly Western countries have called on the Philippines to allow the UN expert, Agnes Callamard, to look into the thousands of killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's 19 month-old crackdown.

Ms Callamard's specialist areas under the UN are extrajudicial killings and summary and arbitrary executions.

Mr Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, a lawyer, said the Philippines welcomed any investigation provided that the UN sends a "credible, objective and unbiased" rapporteur, who is also "an authority in the field that they seek to investigate".

Ms Callamard does not fit that description, he said.

"Definitely, not Agnes Callamard," Mr Roque told a regular news briefing. "It's her fault the home state does not want her in."


Read more

Philippine police return to war on drugs, but 'cannot promise no bloodshed'

Trudeau raises human rights issues as Asia summit winds down


More than 4,000 Filipinos have been killed by police during the drugs war and hundreds, possibly several thousand more, by unidentified armed men.

Human rights groups and Mr Duterte's political opponents say executions of drug users and small-time peddlers are widespread and systematic. The authorities deny that and say those killed were all dealers who put up violent resistance.

Last week, Amnesty International in the Philippines said "meaningful investigations" into such killings had failed to take place.

A prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague earlier this month started a preliminary examination into a complaint accusing Mr Duterte and at least 11 officials of crimes against humanity. Mr Duterte has welcomed that.

Mr Roque said he had a lawyer in mind who could do the job instead of Ms Callamard, but would not say who.

Mr Duterte has previously said he would welcome a probe by Ms Callamard on the condition she agreed to have a public debate with him.

She irked the government in May last year when she gave a speech at a policy forum during a visit in an unofficial capacity.