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SHAME ON 'THUG-LIKE' LEADERS
UN official calls for action against smear campaigns on Callamard, other probers
Published June 7, 2017 7:48am
BY BERNADETTE A. PARCO, GMA News
A United Nations official has urged UN Human Rights Council President Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli to consider actions on smear campaigns against Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions Agnes Callamard, who recently visited the Philippines, and the body's other rights investigators.
"In recent months, I have been greatly concerned by a number of disgraceful incidents of personal threats and insults directed against Special Procedures mandate-holders," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, speaking at the start of the three-week session of the UN Human Rights Council, on Tuesday.
"Three have recently been subjected to smear and hate campaigns, some involving incitement to violence: the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar; the Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions, in the context of discussions on the Philippines; and the Special Rapporteur on Iran. This is absolutely unacceptable," Al-Hussein said.
He added: "As Special Procedures are appointed by this Council, I call on you to consider what actions you may want to take to prevent these sorts of campaigns."
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier questioned the facts, impartiality and fairness of Agnes Callamard, the UN's Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
Cayetano led the Philippine delegation in Geneva last month in presenting a report at the universal periodic review of the Philippines before the United Nations Human Rights Council.
"The system of sending special rapporteurs has oftentimes been effective. But sometimes this could create more harm than good especially when human rights is politicized," Cayetano said.
Presidnet Rodrigo Duterte had also thrown criticisms against Callamard, who contradicted his opinion that shabu causes brain damage during her visit in the Philippines last month.
The Philippines had tried to prevent Callamard from visiting the Philippines to attend a forum on drug-related issues.
Callamard said she was still open to undertaking an official visit to the Philippines.
In the same speech titled, "Denial of access and lack of cooperation with UN bodies will not diminish scrutiny of a State's human rights record," Al-Hussein also criticized "thug-like leaders" that "openly defy, not only their own laws and constitutions, but also their obligations under international law, where is their shame?"
Without mentioning names, Al-Hussein mentioned the remark delivered by President Rodrigo Duterte before soldiers during a recent visit in Iligan City.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella had explained that Dutete was "speaking with heightened bravado" when he made the "rape joke" before a crowd of soldiers after declaring martial law in Mindanao due to the Maute group's attack in Marawi City.
The UN leader said, "Do they not feel disgusted with themselves when they incite or condone acts of violence and bigotry? When they remark that every soldier should be limited to three rapes of village women each, have they no conscience? Promising bounties for killing people – people not convicted of crime, or charged with crime, but merely suspected, or imagined, criminals."
"Seeking to withdraw from laws to combat violence against women and domestic battery, claiming they represent a so-called "gender ideology." Jailing principled judges and advocates, journalists, human rights defenders, university professors and teachers, and closing universities. Trading in malice, cruelty, insults and lies. What of their shame?" he added.
Al Hussein, in September 2016, had criticized Duterte for statements that "display a striking lack of understanding of our human rights institutions and the principles which keep societies safe."
He also urged the government to invite Callamard to probe the Duterte administration's war against drugs.
In the same speech before the council, the High Commissioner on Human Rights also reiterated the responsibilities of member-states.
"Becoming party to an international human rights treaty is a commitment which the State makes, above all, to its own people. Reporting procedures aim to identify gaps in protection and measures taken to correct them. They are not optional," he said.
Al-Hussein underscored the council's mission, in addressing human rights violations committed by member-states.
"When Government or other officials intimidate, arrest or harm these individuals, they are attacking a fundamental element of the work of this Council and the UN, and it is our responsibility to do all we can to protect them," he said.
He added: "Every State has accepted that it "is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms" – to reprise the Vienna Declaration. Every State is party to at least one of the nine core human rights treaties."
"And it would be intolerable if delegations were to conclude that by maintaining minimal engagement with the human rights mechanisms they can evade or betray those commitments to their own peoples, and to the peoples of the world."
—ALG, GMA News
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