Trump and Duterte un­der­line value of ‘hu­man rights’

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL - EL­LIE ABEN

MANILA: Fol­low­ing their first of­fi­cial meet­ing, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte re­leased a joint state­ment ac­cen­tu­at­ing the value of hu­man rights.

Trump and Duterte met in Manila on Mon­day on the mar­gins of the 31st As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) Sum­mit and Re­lated Meet­ings.

“The two sides un­der­scored that hu­man rights and the dig­nity of hu­man life are es­sen­tial,” read part of a joint state­ment from the US and the Philip­pines.

It added that both lead­ers “agreed to con­tinue main­stream­ing the hu­man rights agenda in their na­tional pro­grams to pro­mote the wel­fare of all sec­tors, in­clud­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble groups.”

How­ever, the state­ment comes amid wide­spread crit­i­cism of Duterte for the al­leged ex­tra­ju­di­cial mur­ders of thou­sands of al­leged drug deal­ers and users across the coun­try since he as­sumed of­fice in June 2016, in his zero tol­er­ance war on drugs.

In a press brief­ing on Mon­day, Duterte’s spokesman, lawyer Harry Roque, said that the is­sue of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in the coun­try was not raised dur­ing the Trump-Duterte bi­lat­eral meet­ing. He added, though, that Duterte ex­plained his drug pol­icy to Trump at length and that Trump “seems to be ap­pre­cia­tive of his ef­forts.”

The joint US-PH state­ment said “the two sides dis­cussed the on­go­ing cam­paign in the Philip­pines against crim­i­nal­ity in­clud­ing il­le­gal drugs.

“Both sides ac­knowl­edged that il­le­gal drug use is a prob­lem af­flict­ing both coun­tries,” it con­tin­ued, adding that the two coun­tries “com­mit­ted to share best prac­tices in the ar­eas of pre­ven­tion; en­force­ment, in­clud­ing ca­pac­ity-build­ing and trans­parency in in­ves­ti­ga­tions; and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.”

In a sep­a­rate de­vel­op­ment, the US Em­bassy in the Philip­pines com­mended Philip­pine au­thor­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly those with the Ni­noy Aquino In­ter­na­tional Air­port In­ter Agency Drug In­ter­dic­tion Task Group (NAIA IADITG), the Philip­pine Bureau of Cus­toms, and the Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency (PDEA) on the seizure of one kilo­gram of co­caine.

Ac­cord­ing to the em­bassy, on Nov. 12, US Home­land Se­cu­rity In­ves­ti­ga­tions (HSI) in Manila shared in­for­ma­tion about a high-risk trav­eler aboard an in­com­ing in­ter­na­tional flight with the Philip­pine Bureau of Cus­toms and the PDEA at Ni­noy Aquino In­ter­na­tional Air­port. This in­for­ma­tion re­sulted in the ar­rest of a Colom­bian na­tional for pos­ses­sion of drugs.

“This op­er­a­tion was suc­cess­ful thanks to close co­or­di­na­tion be­tween HSI, the Bureau of Cus­toms, the PDEA, and the NAIA IADITG,” said the US Em­bassy.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view with the Bureau of Cus­toms, the sus­pect ad­mit­ted to swal­low­ing the co­caine in or­der to smug­gle it into the coun­try. Au­thor­i­ties re­cov­ered 79 con­dom-wrapped pel­lets from the sus­pect.

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