UN rapporteur: No invite yet to probe PH killings
MANILA, Philippines – Three weeks after the Palace supposedly sent her a letter, United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard said she has not received an invitation from the Philippine government to investigate extrajudicial killings in the country.
Callamard, the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, disclosed this in an email to Rappler on Wednesday morning, October 19.
Callamard said: "According to the media, on September 26, the Philippines' Office of the President has sent me an invitation to investigate alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. A copy of the invitation was reproduced in the media. However, as of October 16, I had not yet received the Philippine government's invitation to conduct a mission in the Philippines."
Signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the invitation for Callamard was dated September 26 but released September 28.
The Office of the President released a copy of this letter to reporters on October 12.
Asked by journalists for an update, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Monday, October 17, said he does not know if Callamard has responded to the Philippine government.
While waiting for the Philippine government's letter, Callamard said she has submitted to the Philippine mission in Geneva "a request to undertake a mission to the Philippines, jointly with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Dainius Pūras."
"I welcome the reports in the media that the government will support such a mission and I am looking forward to further discussing it with the relevant officials," Callamard said.
'Freedom of inquiry' sought
Callamard is also the director of the Global Freedom of Information Project at Columbia University in the United States.
Before this, Callamard worked as chef de cabinet for the secretary general of the human Amnesty International, and also as the group’s research policy coordinator.
An expert in human rights, she holds a doctorate in political science from the New School for Social Research in New York.
Callamard said in an earlier email: "I welcome the invitation from the government assuming this includes essential guarantees (freedom of inquiry and movement, and non-retaliation), and enables engagement with the authorities and other key actors and stakeholders concerned with the recent wave of alleged extrajudicial executions."
She added that she will wait for the Philippine government's official letter "to review it and discuss and determine with the Philippine authorities the date and scope of the mission."
The invitation came with conditions such as allowing Duterte "to propound his own questions" to Callamard, according to the letter signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
The Palace said allowing Duterte to pose questions to Callamard is part of "due process."
Duterte is "entitled to know the motive for the investigation, and why the focus is on the Philippines when there are other nations responsible for the death of innocent and defenseless individuals elsewhere in the world," Medialdea said.
Medialdea also said the Philippine government expects Callamard "to look into the circumstances surrounding the killing of our policemen during legitimate drug operations."
"That way, your picture of the enormity and gravity of our problem, and the audacity of drug personalities, can be placed in accurate perspective," the Executive Secretary told Callamard. – Rappler.com