Wednesday, 21 December 2016

UN wants murder investigation after Duterte admits killing 3 people

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Al Hussein Zeid, has called on the judicial authorities in the Philippines to uphold the rule of law and investigate the self-professed crimes of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Zeid said that the killing of “about three” people, which Duterte admitted to personally committing, while serving as the Mayor of the city of Davao clearly constituted murder.

“The killings committed by President Duterte of the Philippines, by his own admission, at a time when he was a mayor, clearly constitute murder.

“It should be unthinkable for any functioning judicial system not to launch investigative and judicial proceedings when someone has openly admitted being a killer,” the UN rights chief said.

According to Zeid, Duterte told business leaders last week that he had patrolled the streets personally on his motorcycle and killed people.

On Friday, in an interview with the BBC, the President reportedly confirmed that he had personally killed “about three” people during his term as the mayor of Davao.

“The killings described by President Duterte also violate international law, including the right to life, freedom from violence and force, due process and fair trial, equal protection before the law, and innocence until proven guilty,” the High Commissioner stressed.

He added that if Duterte, as a government official, encouraged others to follow his example, he may also have committed incitement to violence.

Zeid also said that Duterte’s repeated calls for the police, military and the general public to engage in a ‘war on drugs’, bringing people in ‘dead or alive’, has emboldened an environment of alarming impunity and violence.

According to him, repeated statements indicating immunity for police officers who engaged in human rights violations in the line of duty are a direct violation of all democratic safeguards that have been established to uphold justice and the rule of law.

Zeid said that since Duterte’s assumed presidency on June 30, more than 6,100 people have reportedly been killed either by police, or by vigilantes and mercenaries, apparently acting in response to the President’s ‘war on drugs’.

“In his public comments last week, Mr Duterte promised “For as long as there are drug lords, this campaign will go on until the last day of my term and until all of them are killed”.

“Credible and independent investigations must be urgently re-opened into the killings in Davao, as well as into the shocking number of killings that have occurred across the country since Mr Duterte became president.

“The perpetrators must be brought to justice, sending a strong message that violence, killings and human rights violations will not be tolerated by the State and that no one is above the law,” the UN rights chief stressed.

Zeid also called on the Government to lift a series of preconditions it imposed on a planned visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions to investigate alleged extra-judicial killings of suspected drug dealers.