WATCH | Palace spurns call at UN rights council to allow Callamard visit


MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang spurned calls by Iceland at the 37th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to allow special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions to conduct an investigation into the thousands of deaths associated with the government’s war on drugs, saying it could not be compelled to do so.

“All investigations must be consented to by state parties and there’s no one that can compel a state party to allow an investigation if it does not want to do so,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing Tuesday, February 27.

But should the government invite a UN rights expert, he said, it would “definitely no (be) Agnes,” who has been the target of President Rodrigo Duterte’s ire.

Earlier, Duterte sad he would allow Callamard to probe the killings only if she agreed to such conditions as allowing him to question her and engage her in public debate, which she has rejected because these violate her mandate.

Roque on Tuesday added another reason why Callamard was not desirable.

“Part of the qualification of a special rapporteur is to be trustworthy enough so that member-nations of the UN will allow a special rapporteur to investigate,” he said.

At the UN HRC session in Geneva, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson referred to reports “that the Philippines have indicated that they may be willing to cooperate with the UN to allow an objective assessment of the human rights situation in the country” and urged the government to “accept without preconditions or limitations a visit from the UN special rapporteur and to cooperate with the office of the high commissioner to receive a mission by independent experts to conduct such an assessment without delay.”


Last year, Iceland led 39 UN member-states, including the U.S., Canada and Australia, in criticizing the worsening human rights situation in the country.

Thórdarson also called the International Criminal Court’s plan to conduct a preliminary examination of the drug war killings “an important development,” he stressed that “it does not take away the responsibility away from this body to fulfill its duty to monitor, investigate, deliberate and take further steps” to help ensure the Philippines, a member of the HRC, “meets its human rights obligations.”

Callamard tweeted about Thórdarson’s call on the Philippines “to allow my country visit” and called on the HRC to “request (a) UN independent investigation into alleged deprivation of life.”

But Roque said Thórdarson’s call was “an expression that we don’t have to heed.”