Philippines irked by UN investigator's unofficial visit

MANILA • The Philippines intends to complain to the United Nations after one of the latter's human rights investigators failed to notify the government of a visit to Manila yesterday, which Manila said broke UN protocols and was a "clear signal" she was not interested in an objective view.

Ms Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, gave a speech at a university policy forum yesterday, and said she was not in the Philippines in an official capacity and would not carry out any research.

However, she did meet various human rights campaigners and lawyers while in the Philippines, including some who organised the forum.

Ms Callamard mentioned different approaches to tackling illicit drugs at the forum, although she did not refer specifically to the Philippines. She said the UN General Assembly had recognised last year that drugs wars did more harm than good.

"Badly thought out, ill-conceived drug policies not only fail to address substantively drug dependency, drug-related criminality and the drug trade, they add more problems," she said in her speech.

Ms Callamard has been vocal about allegations of systematic summary executions in the Philippines as part of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, which has killed thousands of people.

She sought to visit last year to investigate the allegations but said the government's conditions - including that she publicly debate Mr Duterte - were far from agreeable.

In response to the visit, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement: "We are disappointed that, in not contacting our government in advance of this visit, she has sent a clear signal that she is not interested in getting an objective perspective."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2017, with the headline 'Philippines irked by UN investigator's unofficial visit'. Print Edition | Subscribe