UN rapporteurs, except Agnes Callamard, welcome to visit Philippines

MALACAÑANG said a United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions would be welcome to look into the alleged drug-related killings in the Philippines, just not Agnes Callamard.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Tuesday, February 27, that the government would only allow someone who is "credible" and "objective" to conduct an inquiry.

Roque, who also serves as Presidential Adviser on Human Rights, said he would recommend to allow a particular UN special rapporteur to investigate Duterte's drug war. He, however, refused to divulge the identity "for now."

"Again, if they're going to send a special rapporteur to the Philippines, it must be someone credible, someone who is in authority in the field that they seek to investigate in, and must be objective and unbiased," the Palace official told a press conference.

"(It's) definitely not Agnes (Callamard). As I have said before, it's her fault that the home state does not want her in. Part of a qualification of a special rapporteur is to be trustworthy enough so that member nation of the UN will allow a special rapporteur to investigate," he added.

Roque's statement came a day after Callamard, in a Twitter post, said Iceland urged the Philippines to approve her investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotics war that police say has so far claimed the lives of around 4,000 suspected drug offenders.

On Monday, February 26, Callamard noted that Iceland, during the Human Rights Council's 37th regular session, called on the Philippines "to allow (her) country visit."

It was in 2016 when Callamard expressed her intent to visit the Philippines to look into alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs).

Callamard, however, can only be authorized to carry out an investigation in the Philippines if she agrees to engage Duterte in a public debate, be questioned by the President, and take an oath to confirm her intention to be truthful.

Reacting to Iceland's appeal, Roque said "it is an expression that we do not have to heed" as "there is no one that can compel a state party to allow an investigation if it does not want to do so."

He said Callamard undoubtedly failed to meet the requirements for a person who can conduct a fact-finding probe into the spate of deaths of suspected drug personalities in the Philippines.

"As I said, effectivity of special rapporteur depends on their character, their credibility, their trustworthiness," Roque said. "The fact that there is no way that Agnes Callamard can be allowed to investigate in the Philippines proves that she has failed in this regard."

At the opening ceremonies of the UN Human Rights Council's 37th Session in Geneva, Switzerland, Iceland Minister of Foreign Affairs Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson reiterated his country's "concern over measures used in the Philippines to combat illicit drugs and called on that State to uphold the rule of law."

He urged that the Philippines welcome independent experts to assess the situation without delay.

Iceland was among 39 countries that expressed serious concern in September 2017 over the alleged killings under Duterte's war on drugs. (SunStar Philippines)


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