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

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Kitimat registers biggest drop in property assessments

The residential property in the north with the highest value was $2.892 million

Former mayor Ray Brady passes away

“What I can say is that he was passionate about his beliefs and he would fight for them.”

CDC’s housing section looking for new home

CDC executive director says it has until Jan. 31 to move out.

Shames Mountain named one of the world’s Top 10 ski resorts

The UK magazine listed Shames alongside Whistler and hills in Italy, Japan and Austria

Solitary-confinement veto a chance to address mental health: advocate

B.C. Supreme Court made the landmark ruling Wednesday

Winter storm coming to B.C. this weekend

The bets are on as to how much snow the province will actually get in the coming days

B.C. civil rights group files complaint about RCMP arrest of man who later died

Dale Culver, a 35-year-old Indigenous man was arrested in Prince George last July

Lawyer says former B.C. government aide ‘barely guilty’ in ethnic vote scandal

Brian Bonney pleaded guilty to a breach of trust charge

Quite a few tears as homemade quilts distributed to residents of Ashcroft Reserve, Boston Flats affected by last summer’s fire

Quilters in B.C. and Alberta worked through the summer and fall to create more than 100 quilts.

Island Health: No need for alarm in wake of Victoria needle-prick incidents

Three incidents in a week prompts meeting between health authority, city service providers

B.C. coast loggers celebrate history, hope for improvement

Truck Loggers Association awaits B.C. NDP government’s new direction

Global Affairs aware of report of two Canadians kidnapped in Nigeria

The foreigners were heading south from Kafanchan to Abuja when they were ambushed around Kagarko

Whistler role in potential Calgary Olympic bid would be welcome: IOC

Calgary is mulling whether to vie for the 2026 Games, and could look to facilities in B.C.

Most Read