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UN Human Rights Council and 45 Countries Tell Duterte to Stop the Killings

Police torches light up the body of a suspected drug dealer, killed by two men on motorcycles in Quezon City, Manila. Photo: Reuters/Erik De Castro | atimes.com.

he administration of President Rodrigo Duterte received a stunning rebuke from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in its just released draft report on the Philippines. Duterte’s war on drugs and the alleged extra-judicial killing of thousands of Filipinos appears to be widely condemned by the international community.

No less than 95 UN-member states participated in the periodic review of the Philippines and offered a staggering 257 recommendations to the Duterte administration. Below is a small sample of those recommendations:

Provide adequate resourcing to the Commission on Human Rights and allow it to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings (Australia);
Ensure that the fight against crime strictly respects international standards (Peru);
Take the necessary measures to combat drug trafficking, while ensuring that the methods used are in conformity with international standards (Haiti);
Bring in line with international best practices the methods of combating the use of illegal drugs in the Philippines, namely in terms of prevention and alternative sanctions (Portugal);
Preserve the right to life, do not bring back use of the death penalty as proposed in the Death Penalty Bill (Liechtenstein);
Continue to uphold the implementation commitments, as a State Party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty (Romania);
Cease all steps to reintroduce the death penalty, contrary to its obligations under the OP to the ICCPR; urgently accept a visit from the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, without preconditions or limitations; fully investigate and prosecute all cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances; take immediate steps to combat torture in the criminal justice system, including torture in police stations to extract confessions; and fully respect international human rights law in its efforts to combat the trade in and use of illegal drugs (Ireland);
Protect and guarantee the right to life and to a fair trial also in the context of the campaign against drug trafficking, and take all necessary steps to guarantee a proportionate use of force by the security forces (Italy).

Among the members of the Philippine delegation headed by Menardo Guevarra who flew to Geneva, Switzerland to receive the report, was Philippine Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, Duterte’s former running mate for vice president.

Cayetano stirred controversy before the council by stating during his presentation that reports of state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings were simply “alternative facts” that had no basis in reality. Given the ever-piling number of casualties and pronouncements by Duterte himself, it is hard to believe that anyone listening took Cayetano’s statement seriously. Instead, many worried that it signified a level of intransigence and a refusal to change by the Duterte administration.

Human beings have evolved over millennia up to this point where universal rights are in place, and every human on earth is entitled to share in those rights. There can be no exceptions for Duterte or anyone else to trample on those rights. Does Duterte and his minions think they have a “special pass” to do what no other democratic government on earth can do to its citizens? Duterte has to realize that there will be consequences in the end. One cannot simply reverse a thousand of years of civilization and revert to savagery, on the pretext of bringing about an intended good.

If Duterte was a righteous leader, he would conduct his “war on drugs” the proper way, and win it without trampling on the rights and liberties of poor and defenseless Filipinos. History has shown time and again that only tyrants and despots behave the way he does. Published 5/12/17

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