UN special rapporteur on EJKs to visit PH on government’s invitation
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has invited a special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions as part of its capacity building under the United Nations Joint Programme (UNJP), Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Monday.
“We also invited a third one on extrajudicial killings (EJKs) because we want to increase and do capacity building for our forensic pathologists in the country,” Remulla said at a press briefing, referring to Morris Tidball-Binz, a physician from Chile who specializes in forensic science, human rights, and humanitarian action.
“And he welcomed our invitation… Actually, our invitation was more of a follow-up already on an agreed program that we had in the UNJP for capacity building of our forensic pathologists so that we can train more forensic pathologists in the country,” the justice secretary said.
Tidball-Binz, he said, is expected to visit the country by early next year, adding that the government’s invitation shows that the Philippines is “a country open to suggestions and a country that does not deny that there are problems within the system… and [is] open to improving whatever situation there is.”
There are only two licensed and internationally recognized forensic pathologists in the country—Doctors Raquel Fortun and Cecilia Lim.
“The rest of them are medicolegal experts but not the level of forensic pathologists that we want,” Remulla said.
‘Armed movement, terrorism’
Two other UN special rapporteurs are scheduled to visit the Philippines—Mama Fatima Singhateh, a special rapporteur on the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, and Irene Khan, a special rapporteur on freedom of expression and media.
According to the Commission on Human Rights, Singhateh will be in the country from Nov. 28 to Dec. 8, while Khan will arrive next year.
According to Remulla, the government hopes to engage the rapporteurs in a special dialogue “on any issue that they want to bring up.”
He added: “We don’t hide and say ‘that’s not true.’ What we’re saying is that if there’s room for improvement, we will take it on and I think it’s the attitude that is really healthy for international relations.”
“It’s a caring gesture that they want to show us and we also reciprocate this caring gesture by being open to all of these suggestions to our country,” Remulla said.
But he also hit back at some groups that were critical of his visit to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) during last week’s Universal Periodic Review of the country’s human rights situation.
“[W]e noticed that a lot of [these groups] that were very, very critical of what we were doing—these are the same organizations that only go to Europe to destroy the image of our country,” he said.
“These are civil society organizations that are somehow linked to the armed movement against government, linked to terrorism, those who cry about red-tagging, those who cry about these issues. They are the ones who destroy us. Otherwise, I think we are in the right direction,” Remulla said.
Remulla earlier led a delegation to the UNHRC which accepted 200 recommendations on human rights by the council, notably a commitment to not revive the death penalty. The delegation also said it would “examine” 89 others, such as the recommendations to cease the policy of Red-tagging.
Meanwhile, Remulla said the Philippines cannot accept a recommendation on upholding same-sex marriage, as he emphasized that the country was “not culturally ready for it.”
“Culturally, our values may conflict with many of the values that they want to impose on us… Culturally, we are not ready for that. That’s what we believe, unless somebody argues otherwise. That’s our position right now,” he said.
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