UN rights body to grill top Philippine official
GENEVA: A top Philippine official is set to be questioned next week at the United Nations Human Rights Council on issues such as extrajudicial killings and vigilante justice alleged to be occurring in President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly fight against illegal drugs.
The Philippines is one of 14 countries whose records are being examined in the latest session of the Universal Periodic Review, which examines issues in all 193 UN member states. Britain was on tap yesterday and the Philippine anti-drug campaign and moves to restore the death penalty are among the issues set for discussion on Monday.
Menardo Guevarra, a senior deputy executive secretary in Duterte’s office, is leading the delegation. Also participating is senator and staunch Duterte supporter Alan Peter Cayetano, who said “our strategy is simple: The facts being said about the campaign against drugs are wrong”.
Human Rights Watch yesterday called on the UN to denounce the Philippines’ “war on drugs” that it said had left more than 7,000 suspected drug dealers and users dead since Duterte took office on June 30 and to urge the country to support an international investigation into the killings.
“The UN review of the Philippines is critical because of the sheer magnitude of the human rights calamity since Duterte took office last year,” said Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director.
“Duterte’s war on drugs has been nothing less than a murderous war on the poor.”
Amnesty International Philippines said the review should highlight persisting problems, including the high number of extrajudicial executions and moves to reinstate the death penalty.
The government is releasing new data in an attempt to refute death tolls ranging from more than 7,000 to 9,000 based on numbers released by police.
Numbers released by the presidential palace, the Philippine national police and other agencies this week showed nearly 4,600 people have been killed in drugrelated crime since July 1. AP