THE head of the United Nations Human Rights Council has criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to the police against cooperating with any rapporteur who might conduct an investigation into the government’s war on illegal drugs.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein mentioned Duterte’s order in his annual report presented during the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday, March 7.

He also criticized the “continued vilification” of Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings (EJKs).

“I deplore the President Duterte’s statement last week to élite police units that they should not cooperate “when it comes to human rights, or whoever rapporteur it is” and the continued vilification of this Council’s Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings by the authorities,” he said.

Zeid said the government “has a duty to uphold human rights and to engage with persons appointed by this council.”

He also criticized Duterte’s statement that encouraged government troops to shoot female rebels in their genitals, saying this is an “encouragement to troops to violate fundamental rules of international humanitarian law.”

The Philippines was among the 62 countries that Zeid mentioned in his report as having improvements or negative developments in human rights.

Read: Full Statement of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

Zeid said he was concerned over the “deepening repression and increasing threats to individuals and groups with independent or dissenting views, including opposition senators, current and former public officials, the Commission on Human Rights, human rights defenders and journalists.”

“This authoritarian approach to governance threatens to irreparably damage 30 years of commendable efforts by the Philippines to strengthen the rule of law and respect for the human rights of the people,” he said.

Zeid noted the impeachment complaints that have been filed against Supreme Court Chief Justice-on-leave Maria Lourdes Sereno and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

He also cited the arrest and continued detention of opposition Senator Leila de Lima “without clear charges.”

The Department of Justice (DOJ) had filed charges of illegal drug trading against De Lima.

The senator, however, has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision not to nullify the arrest warrant issued against her.

In line with this, Zeid called on all 47 member states of the council to “examine the effectiveness and human rights impact of the current approaches to the so-called war on drugs.” (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)