PH envoy to UN twits rapporteur
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial and Summary Killings Agnes Callamard on Saturday challenged the Duterte administration to lift the conditions it imposed on her before she can make an official visit to investigate allegations of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations under the government’s bloody war on drugs.
Callamard made the statement as the country’s ambassador to the UN, Teodoro Locsin Jr., criticized the rapporteur in a series of stinging tweets where he also poked fun at her physical appearance.
“I was right after all and people thought I was flippant: Never argue with people who don’t shower at least twice a day,” he said, calling Callamard a “stand-alone conceited fool...totally ignorant of the drug problem.”
“Thank you Agnes, you just solidified the country behind Duterte and his drug war, and thoroughly discredited any criticism of him and it...Agnes Callamard did in one day what Jose Rizal used his whole life including his death to pull off: give Filipinos a sense of their country,” the Philippine ambassador added.
Callamard, for her part, said she remains committed to undertaking an official visit to the country, but it can only happen if President Rodrigo Duterte takes back the conditions he imposed on the planned probe.
“I’m waiting for the government to lift the three conditions that they’ve imposed on my visit,” she said.
Duterte has set three conditions for the official visit: a public debate for the two of them; that the President be allowed to ask the special rapporteur questions; and for Callamard to be questioned under oath.
The French rapporteur has rejected the conditions, which she said would violate the UN’s Code of Conduct and terms of reference for country visits.
Locsin, however, said the issue should be brought to Geneva, Switzerland where the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is located.
“In short, let’s move on. Geneva is the proper venue and Callamard will not be allowed to step foot in it or have anything to do with it,” Locsin said.
Callamard is in the Philippines for an “academic visit” upon the invitation the Free Legal Assistance Group’s Anti-Death Penalty Task Force and the University of the Philippines for a two-day policy forum on the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the Duterte administration.
The UN special rapporteur likewise brushed off criticisms from Malacañang officials who questioned the legitimacy of her “academic visit.”
“I’m used to it [bashing]. It’s a pity because the purpose of the forum is to open avenues of dialogue. It’s to provide expertise that you’ve heard in the last two days... and that should be the real focus not me,” Callamard said.
“The real focus is: What are the lessons to be learned from the rest of the world? What can the Philippine government, the Philippine stakeholders can take from those experiences to build an effective response to the drug abuse in the country, which is real but also in order to stop the killings. That’s the real story,” she added.
Callamard reiterated that Duterte’s war on drugs is not a long-term solution to the narcotics problem.
“I have followed testimonies of the relatives of victims, I have seen the brave work of civil society actors, lawyers, human rights defenders, academics, senators. I have heard debates between politicians, explanations by government officials, and indeed I have watched footage, too of police and military men—and all saying there are other ways; better ways; other options, and better options,” she said