Unable to look into EJKs herself, Callamard speaks out on Twitter

September 28, 2018 - 2:39 PM
Agnes Callamard speaks at the 2017 Dublin Platform for Human Rights Defenders organized by Front Line Defenders on October 17. (Thomson Reuters Foundation/Matthew Ponsford)

Her attempts to investigate questionable killings in the Philippines might be a off-chance with Malacañang setting conditions. But United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard continues to observe developments in the Philippines, having condemned recent statements of President Rodrigo Duterte on Twitter.

Callamard, the designated rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, criticized the Philippine head of state for his recent admission that the series of extrajudicial killings since the start of his administration would be his “only sin”

For her, Duterte also meant that he was responsible for “imposing unthinkable sufferings on 1000s of vulnerable families, emboldening corrupt policing, destroying rule of law.”

Duterte’s statements on Thursday about his administration’s war on drugs, to which thousands of unresolved killings have been tied, have triggered violent reactions from critics of the drug war.

Others did not laugh over the president’s apparent joke that the rice shortage was caused by rehabilitated drug addicts eating rice again.

Duterte and Callamard have been trading heated words since the UN body expressed its intention to conduct a scheduled investigation into the extrajudicial killings in late 2017.

Callamard had long been critical of Duterte’s drug war, calling for an end to the killings after the death of 17-year old drug suspect Kian de los Santos in August 2017.

The Malacañang in March 2018 said that Callamard would remain unwelcome to conduct her investigation in the Philippines.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, a former human rights lawyer, claimed that Callmard’s 2017 visit to the Philippines was in bad faith and that she would remain uninvited to the country. She was, however, attending a conference she was invited to and not conducting an investigation.

Callamard would then air her opposition on social media from time to time.

She has been noted for using her social media platforms to calmly channel her criticism of the war on drugs and Duterte’s statements against her and other human rights advocates.

Duterte has also been intensely critical of other international rights officials, including Callamard’s colleague, former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a Jordanian prince.

The Philippine president and the former UN rights chief exchanged heated words in March 2018 after Al Hussein said that Duterte “needed a psychiatrist” on account of his tirades against UN rights officials.

The head of state responded by saying Al Hussein, as a member of the royal family of Jordan, was not familiar with democratic law.

Duterte in a recent speech related that Jordanian King Abdullah II criticized his cousin Al Hussein by saying he “had a loose screw” during his visit to Jordan in September 2018.