Hu­man rights spice up talks on co­op­er­a­tion

Business World - - THE NATION -

THE PHILIP­PINES capped its series of bi­lat­eral talks on Tues­day, Nov. 14, on the side­lines of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) Sum­mit — with a state leader say­ing he brought up the del­i­cate sub­ject of hu­man rights to a “re­cep­tive” Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo R. Duterte.

The Philip­pines on the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion’s watch chairs this year’s sum­mit, amid international con­dem­na­tion of Mr. Duterte’s bru­tal drug cam­paign.

In a press brief­ing on Tues­day af­ter­noon, Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said he tack­led Mr. Duterte over al­le­ga­tions of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings (EJKs) in Manila’s deadly drug war.

The Cana­dian prime min­is­ter’s Mr. Trudeau’s com­ments came the day af­ter US Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump hailed the “great re­la­tion­ship” he en­joys with Mr. Duterte in a meet­ing the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment said did not touch on hu­man rights, although the White House said they had done so “briefly.”

“I also men­tioned hu­man rights, the rule of law, and specif­i­cally ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings as be­ing an is­sue that Canada is con­cerned with,” Mr. Trudeau told re­porters in Manila, re­count­ing his con­ver­sa­tion with Mr. Duterte. “I im­pressed upon him the need for re­spect for the rule of law.”

Asked how Mr. Duterte re­sponded, Mr. Trudeau said: “The pres­i­dent was re­cep­tive to my com­ments and it was through­out a very cor­dial and pos­i­tive ex­change.”

“This is some­thing that is im­por­tant to Cana­di­ans, and it’s im­por­tant to the world and I will al­ways bring that up,” Mr. Trudeau said, re­fer­ring to hu­man rights.

He added he of­fered sup­port to Mr. Duterte “as a friend to help move for­ward on what is a real chal­lenge.”

Mr. Trump, for his part, skipped the ple­nary ses­sion of a sum­mit of East and South­east Asian lead­ers in Manila on Tues­day be­cause of sched­ul­ing de­lays, but he said his marathon trip to the re­gion had been a suc­cess.

Mr. Trump left for home from the Philip­pines af­ter a lunch with the other lead­ers, as meet­ings were run­ning about two hours be­hind sched­ule. He told re­porters on Air Force One that Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son would at­tend the ple­nary ses­sion in his place, a se­nior White House of­fi­cial said. —

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