- The UN’s Human Rights Council voted Thursday to investigate human rights abuses in the Philippines’ war on drugs, championed by President Rodrigo Duterte. As many as 27,000 people have died in extrajudicial killings, human rights advocates say.
- Filipino politicians blasted the move; Teodoro Locsin, the Philippines’ Secretary of Foreign Affairs, tweeted Thursday that the resolution is “unenforceable because as I told the UN there is no power on earth that can enforce a multilateral judgment on a country with an armed forces.”
- The vote paves the way for tougher action in the future, if the Philippines continues to wage a brutal war on drugs.
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The UN’s Human Rights Council voted Thursday to pass a resolution to investigate the Philippines for its human rights abuses, particularly the drug war led by President Rodrigo Duterte, where as many as 27,000 people have died in extrajudicial killings.
Iceland proposed the resolution; 18 countries voted for it, with 14 against and 15 abstaining, Al Jazeera reported. Representatives from the Philippines and China opposed the measure, criticising it as politically motivated.
“The resolution expresses concern over allegations of human rights violations in the Philippines, particularly those involving extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as intimidation and persecution of human rights defenders and others,” according to a statement released by the Icelandic government.
The resolution calls for the government of the Philippines to prevent extrajudicial killings and hold to account those responsible. It also seeks to ensure that the government of the Philippines cooperates with UN inspectors investigating human rights abuses. Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, is to prepare a report on the state of human rights in the Philippines by June 2020. The New York Times reported that the findings of Bachelet’s report could lead to more serious action if human rights abuses continue.
“This report provides an opportunity for all stakeholders, including the government, to assess the current state of human rights in the country and in particular to get clarity around the contested facts, figures and circumstances,” a spokesperson from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights told INSIDER.
Filipino leaders have signalled they won’t cooperate with the UN investigation.
“We will not tolerate any form of disrespect or acts of bad faith. There will be consequences, far-reaching consequences,” Philippines Ambassador Evan Garcia said after the vote, according to Reuters.
Teodoro Locsin, the Philippines’ Secretary of Foreign Affairs, tweeted Thursday that the resolution, put forth by Iceland, is “unenforceable because as I told the UN there is no power on earth that can enforce a multilateral judgment on a country with an armed forces.”
Here is our response to the Geneva vote, and at that a minority vote: it is individually, severally and collectively unenforceable because as I told the UN there is no power on earth that can enforce a multilateral judgment on a country with an armed forces. And the UN agreed. https://t.co/W39Xc7dNNj
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) July 11, 2019
But human rights advocates celebrated the move.
“The Human Rights Council resolution on the Philippines is a modest but vital measure,” said Leila Matar, Deputy Director for United Nations at Human Rights Watch’s office in Geneva, in a statement. “It signals the start of accountability for thousands of ‘drug war’-related killings and other abuses, and will provide hope to countless survivors and families of victims.”
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has been subject to international criticism due to his brutal “war on drugs,” which by some estimates has killed as many as 27,000, according to Human Rights Watch. Police in the Philippines claim 6,600 deaths, including 3-year-old Myca Ulpina, who was killed accidentally by police during a drug-related incident, Reuters reported.
The Philippines has historically been a key US ally in the Pacific, particularly in the face of a growing threat from China. But since Duterte’s election in 2016, that relationship has become more complicated, due to Chinese investment, flagging US interest in the region, and Duterte’s inflammatory rhetoric.
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