Iceland, 37 countries to Philippines: Let U.N. probe killings

MANILA, Philippines – Iceland called on the Philippines to allow the United Nations and its probers to investigate "without preconditions or limitations" the killings linked to the Duterte administration's war on drugs.

"We urge the government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to bring killings associated with the campaign against illegal drugs to an end and cooperate with the international community to investigate all related deaths and hold perpetrators accountable," Iceland said in a statement delivered at the 38th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, June 19.

"We urge the Government of the Philippines to cooperate with the United Nations system – including the Human Rights Council and its special procedure mandate holders – without preconditions or limitations," Iceland added.

The statement was signed by 37 other countries including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Philippines is also a member of the Human Rights Council.

"While acknowledging that drug use in the Philippines is a serious problem, actions to tackle drug abuse must be carried out in full respect of the rule of law and compliance with international human rights obligations," the statement said.

Reacting to this statement, Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the Philippines has "offered" that the signatories' representatives visit the Philippines "and objectively asses the human rights situation, especially at the community level."

Cayetano said he has personally invited Iceland Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson to visit the Philippines.

Cayetano hits 'misinformation'

"Unfortunately, it seems our friends are really not interested in arriving at the truth and would rather rely on the misinformation being fed to them by parties that have politicized and weaponized human rights," Cayetano said in a statement Sunday, June 24.

UN Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions Agnes Callamard still has not received an official invitation to probe the human rights situation in the Philippines. She needs an invitation to make her findings official. (READ: Duterte threatens to slap UN rapporteur if she probes drug war

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor is currently establishing jurisdiction to investigate the killings in the war on drugs. Jurisdiction will be established if the prosecutor determines that the Philippines is unable or unwilling to investigate it.

In his own response to the joint statement signed by 38 countries, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations Evan Garcia criticized Europe’s migrant problem.

"We are shocked by the persistent abusive and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, whether legal or otherwise, their lack of inclusion in society and their oftentimes woefully limited access to all kinds of services," Garcia said.  

In September 2017, Iceland and nearly 40 other states issued a similar statement hitting the "climate of impunity" in the Philippines. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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