Karapatan asks Duterte: If human rights not evaded, why opt out of Rome Statute?
MANILA, Philippines — Rights group Karapatan has asked President Rodrigo Duterte why did his administration opt out of the Rome Statute if he insists on not evading human-rights obligations as he mentioned in his State of the Nation Address (Sona).
Karapatan said on Monday, hours after Duterte’s fifth Sona, that having a high regard for human rights should not only be done in paper and in words, but also in actions — which is in question as the President has criticized human rights workers in the country and abroad.
In the middle of his speech, Duterte assured the public that they would not dodge the responsibility to fight for human rights, despite his administration being criticized repeatedly for allegedly disregarding it.
“Mr. President, if indeed you do not evade your human-rights obligations, why opt out of the Rome Statute when investigation on your alleged crimes against humanity was initiated?” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.
“Why do you continue to malign and undermine United Nations Special Procedures who seek to visit and investigate the rights violations in the Philippines? Why did you not allow United Nations High Commissioner [Michelle] Bachelet to come in the country to directly talk to victims?” she asked.
Duterte infamously withdrew from the Rome Statute, an international treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), as he claims there were efforts between the ICC and the United Nations (UN) to paint him as a human rights violator who spearheaded extrajudicial killings under the controversial drug war.
The drug war has been the subject of criticism among international rights communities, with the latest UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) saying that there was “near impunity” in the government’s handling of drug war killings.
Karaptan insisted that the respect, protection, and realization of human rights in the daily activities of people are not being done as it is now — noting the irony between Duterte’s assurance to face human rights responsibilities while advocating for death penalty again.
The Commission on Human Rights earlier spotted an alleged contradiction in Duterte’s speech, saying that respecting human rights does not coincide with the reinstatement of capital punishment.
“You spit on, trample upon, and deride the recognition of even the most basic of rights: the right to live, with dignity,” Palabay claimed.
“It is ironic that as you declare that you will not dodge the government’s human rights obligations, you announced your intent to push for the reimposition of the death penalty through lethal injection in drug-related offenses—a move which is strongly discouraged by United Nations human rights bodies,” she added.
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