Malacañang on Thursday acknowledged its duty to uphold human rights, but insisted that the United Nations (UN) rapporteurs who would be assigned to look into drug-related killings in the Philippines should respect the country’s sovereignty.
“I do not dispute that the government has human rights obligations. All we’re saying is, do not disregard sovereignty even in the UN Human Rights Council,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
Roque was responding to the criticism from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zei Ra’ad Al Hussein over the President’s directive to the police to ignore rapporteurs.
The Duterte administration was still miffed over the actions of Agnes Callamard, the special rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, who came to the country “uninvited” and made conclusions on the war on drugs, even before she had conducted her investigation, he said.
Al Hussein said Mr. Duterte’s “authoritarian approach” threatened to damage Manila’s international stature.
“I am concerned by deepening repression and increasing threats to individuals and groups with independent or dissenting views, including opposition senators … public officials, the Commission on Human Rights, human rights defenders and journalists,” Al Hussein said.
In a press briefing, Roque said: “My reply to His Excellency, the Prince of Jordan is, it’s a two-way street. The entire human rights mechanism of the UN is built around sovereignty, and it will not work if rapporteurs become untrustworthy as far as sovereign states are concerned.”
A country has to agree to be investigated by rapporteurs, he said. In the meantime, the administration is still waiting for the names of new rapporteurs to be proposed by the UN secretary general, he added. —WITH A REPORT FROM DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN
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