UN rights chief ‘gravely concerned’ by Duterte’s support for ‘shoot-to-kill policy’
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to uphold the international human rights obligations of the Philippines, as he expressed “grave concern” over the state leader’s “open support for a shoot-to-kill policy” against suspects.
In his opening statement at the 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) held in Geneva on September 11, UNHCHR Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he was appalled by Duterte’s “lack of respect for due process rights of all Filipinos,” citing the President’s repeated pronouncements that he would not punish policemen who would kill drug suspects resisting arrest.
The UNHRC, an inter-governmental body that consists of 47 member-states, is responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights worldwide. Zeid addressed the UN council to present human rights issues in 40 countries, including the Philippines.
“In the Philippines, I continue to be gravely concerned by the President’s open support for a shoot-to-kill policy regarding suspects, as well as by the apparent absence of credible investigations into reports of thousands of extrajudicial killings, and the failure to prosecute any perpetrator,” Zeid told the UN assembly.
“The recent killing of a schoolboy who was dragged into an alley and shot in the head by plains-clothed policeman on August 16 was described by the Minister of Justice as ‘an isolated case’. However, suspicion of extrajudicial killings has now become so widespread that the initials EJK have reportedly become a verb in some communities – as in ‘he was EJKed’,” he added.
“Two days after hundreds of people turned out for the teenager’s funeral, the President again told police they would not be punished for killing suspects who resist arrest. This lack of respect for the due process rights of all Filipinos is appalling,” he also said.
Zeid further expressed shock over Duterte’s threat to bomb Lumad schools, believing that it was “teaching subversion, communism, everything” to children.
He likewise assailed Duterte’s warning against human rights advocates. Duterte had previously suggested in a gathering with members of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) in Malacañang to investigate human rights personnel for “conspiracy” and to shoot them for purportedly “obstructing justice”.
Zeid stressed that this is “yet another blow to his country’s reputation and his people’s rights.”
The UN human rights boss also raised before the UNHRC the case of detained opposition Senator Leila De Lima, who insisted that the drug charges filed against her were “politically motivated”.
Zeid likewise criticized the Philippine government’s plan to reintroduce the death penalty.
“I remain concerned about the case of Senator De Lima. Many human rights defenders who are the honor of their country face a growing number of death threats, and I call on the Government to ensure they are accorded full protection and the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly without reprisals,” Zeid said.
Inquirer.net is requesting Malacañang to comment on this issue. But it has yet to respond to the request as of this posting. /kga
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