Manila to complain to UN over Callamard

MANILA, Philippines — Manila would complain to the United Nations (UN) following the failure of its human rights official to notify them in advance about her visit to the country, saying this move showed that she was not interested in having an “objective” perspective of the human rights situation in the Philippines.

 Ernesto Abella, the presidential spokesperson, said in a statement that the surprise visit of Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on human rights, would be raised by Philippine representatives in the UN and its delegation of senior government officials who are currently in Geneva for a review of the state of human rights in the country.

“This is a matter we have asked our representatives at the United Nations to take up with their United Nations counterparts and it is something our delegation in Geneva will certainly be raising during their current visit,” Abella said.

The presidential spokesperson criticized Callamard for her unannounced visit, saying her action showed that she was not really approaching her assignment “professionally or objectively.”

Callamard gave the keynote speech at a drug policy forum in Manila on Friday. She clarified that she was in the Philippines not on her capacity as a UN official to conduct any research.

Abella said that this visit, as well as her turning down of the Philippine invitation for her to go to the country last year, showed that she was uninterested in getting an objective perspective on issues which were the focus of her responsibility.

“[W]e 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 on the issues that are the focus of her responsibility,” Abella said. “The fact that Dr. Callamard did not respond to our invitation showed that she would not be approaching her review of allegations concerning our country objectively or professionally.”

Abella recalled that the Philippine government invited Callamard last year to visit the country and meet senior officials to see the drug problem the administration was confronting and its efforts to challenge this within the parameters of law. Callamard however declined this, according to the presidential spokesperson.

Callamard has been critical of the Duterte administration over alleged violations of human rights and the mounting number of deaths in the wake of its campaign against illegal narcotics. Last year, she was supposed to investigate the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country.

However, this did not push through after Duterte imposed several conditions on her visit, one of which was to publicly debate with the rapporteur over the findings of her investigation. Callamard instead offered to meet the president in private to discuss her findings.

Abella said that Callamard should be in Geneva meeting Philippine representatives if she was really interested in knowing the country’s human rights situation.

“The fact that we issued an invitation to Dr. Callamard to visit the Philippines makes it clear that we respected her as a professional and we are very much wanted her to see the situation on the ground first-hand and engage in an exchange of our views with officials in our government to understand our position on the issue of human rights and the progress being made in the Philippines,” said Abella who was mum on the conditions Duterte imposed for Callamard’s supposed visit in 2016.

source: philstar.com



Most Popular

To Top