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De Lima questions ground rules for UN visit

Sen. Leila de Lima, who filed a resolution seeking the invitation of UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Killings Agnes Callamard to the country, said that the parameters provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for the work of the probers are restrictive and smacks of prior censorship. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Leila de Lima has questioned the ground rules handed down by the administration for the visit of the United Nations special rapporteurs who would look into the summary killings in the country.

De Lima, who filed a resolution seeking the invitation of UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Killings Agnes Callamard to the country, said that the parameters provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for the work of the probers are restrictive and smacks of prior censorship.

“While it is within the prerogatives of the Philippine government as the host country, through the DFA, to set reasonable parameters for the visit of the UN special rapporteurs and other UN probers, I find questionable the announced rule that it is the government that will decide the places to be visited and the persons to be interviewed by these probers,” De Lima said in a statement.

“What kind of investigation do we expect if the government is going to decide how the investigation is going to be conducted by the UN rapporteur’s team?

“What is the sense of inviting independent probers if they are not going to be allowed freedom of movement and action, and are going to be dictated upon on the extent of their visits and sources of information?” she added.

DFA spokesman Charles Jose said the other day that the UN special rapporteurs have to follow the protocols set by the host country, including the need to secure approval from the government on the personalities they will interview and the places they will visit.

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He said that the special rapporteurs would have to agree to the protocols before they would be allowed visit the country.

De Lima said that any investigation “under such constraints can no longer be deemed independent.”

“Protocol does not mean censorship and control over the ability of the UN team to conduct an independent, credible and exhaustive probe,” she added.

De Lima has been critical of President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs because of the growing number of deaths recorded daily, either at the hands of the police or unknown assailants, including vigilantes.

“This call for a speedy and impartial investigation is justified by the perception that our local institutions of law enforcement and justice, including domestic mechanisms of accountability of public officials, appear to be either inadequate, compromised or weak,” De Lima said in her resolution.

“Agencies and organs within the Executive Department such as the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation cannot be expected to even initiate, much more sustain, an independent investigation into the killings,” she added.

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