Palace open to Iceland’s call for probe into EJKs, but not to Callamard

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Palace open to Iceland�s call for probe into EJKs, but not to Callamard
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said UN rapporteur Agnes Callamard—who has received the administration's ire for criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs"—should not lead the inquiry in alleged EJKs in the Philippines.
Michael Varcas, File

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday said it is open to Iceland’s renewed call for an investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines but insisted that it should not be done by United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard.

“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 spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a press briefing.

He added: “If they’re going to send a special rapporteur to the Philippines, it must be someone who is credible. [It must be] someone who is an authority in the field that they seek to investigate in, and must be objective and unbiased.”

But Roque maintained that Callamard—who has received the administration’s ire for criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs”—should not lead the inquiry.

“Definitely not Agnes. As I’ve said before, it’s her fault that the home state does not want her in. Part of the qualification of the special rapporteur is to be trustworthy enough so that a member-nation of UN will allow a special rapporteur to investigate,” he said.

Roque, who is also the presidential adviser on human rights, said that he would recommend a special rapporteur that would lead the investigation. He, however, did not divulge the identity of the human rights expert.

Renewed call

On Monday, Iceland Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson called on the Philippines to allow a special rapporteur to conduct an investigation without conditions into the extrajudicial killings.

“We would like to take this opportunity to urge the Philippines to continue on a path to accept without preconditions or limitations a visit from UN special rapporteur and to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner to receive a mission by independent experts to conduct such assessment without delay,” Thórdarson said before the UN Human Rights Council.

The Iceland foreign minister also welcomed the move of the International Criminal Court to begin its preliminary examination into the drug war.

“This is an important development but it does not take the responsibility away from this party to fulfill its duty to monitor, investigate, deliberate and take further steps including a more formal council initiative if the need arises—to try and assure that the Philippines meets its human rights obligations,” Thórdarson said.

In a tweet, Callamard lauded Thórdarson’s move.



Last year, 39 countries led by Iceland slammed what it dubbed as “culture of impunity” in the Philippines as they expressed concern over the killings linked to the government’s drug war.

READ: Philippines drug war alarms 39 countries in UN

The member-states urged the country to “cooperate with the international community to pursue appropriate investigations, in keeping up with the universal principles of democratic accountable and the rule of law.”

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