Roque to recommend another UN rapporteur to probe drug killings

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday, February 27, he would recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte a United Nations (UN) special rapporteur who can be allowed to investigate the killings in the administration's drug war.

Roque, who is concurrent presidential adviser on human rights, made the statement in a news briefing in response to the call of Iceland for the Philippines to allow an investigation of its drug war.

"I'm about to make a recommendation as presidential adviser on human rights. There's at least one rapporteur that I will recommend be allowed to conduct the investigation, but I can't divulge for now who it is," Roque said.

During the session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Iceland's Foreign Affairs Minister Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson urged the Philippine government to allow a UN special rapporteur to investigate the drug war killings "without preconditions."

Roque said, "Of course, the statement of the Iceland ambassador is an expression of his home state, but it's an expression that we don't have to heed." 

He said that, under the special rapporteur system, "no one can compel a state party to allow an investigation if it does not want to do so."

"If they're going to send a special rapporteur, it should be someone credible, an authority in the field they seek to investigate in, and must be objective and unbiased," he said.

Roque reiterated that the Duterte administration will "definitely not" agree to an investigation by Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, and said "it's her fault that the home state does not want her in."

"Part of the qualification of a special rapporteur is to be trustworthy enough, so that the member-nation of the UN will allow a special rapporteur to investigate. The fact that there is no way that Agnes Callarmard can be allowed to investigate in the Philippines proves that she has failed in this regard," Roque said.

Callamard drew the ire of Duterte after she and another UN expert called on the Philippine government to stop drug-related killings in August 2016.

The Philippine government had invited her to an official visit, but it was tied to conditions that, Callamard noted, "did not comply with the rules and methods of work of Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council." – Rappler.com