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UN official nixes conditions for killings probe

  • Written by Cristina Lee-Pisco
  • Published in Nation
  • Read: 223

SAYING she is not bound to engage in a politicized public debate, a United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings rejected the conditions set by President Rodrigo Duterte for her to conduct her investigation into the country.

However, special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, in an interview by CNN Philippines said she is still hoping that the Philippine government will review her suggestions and the code of conduct that should guide the mission for her to be allowed to undertake the investigation.

“I cannot engage in public debate. I am bound to conduct a standardized assessment. I am not bound to engage into a politicized debate. And if I may, I have suggested to the government that we have a private debriefing with the President and joint press conference where we can reverse or agree or disagree with my preliminary findings,” Callamard said.

She stressed “I am absolutely committed to come to the Philippines in the spirit of constructive dialogue with the government and with other stakeholders,” adding “so it is in the hands of the government now to refer back to my letter to them to the code of conduct that should guide the mission of all special rapporteurs and I trust the government fully in its review of this and I hope I will be able to come to the Philippines and undertake this investigation.”

The Duterte administration has set three conditions before allowing the special rapporteur to investigate the extrajudicial killings in the country.     These are: a public debate with the President, Duterte will ask her questions and lastly, Callamard is required to take an oath.
   
But Callamard said she cannot abide by those three conditions because they contravene the UN code of conduct.
   
The demand to take oath contradicts the code of conduct saying she is not supposed to accept any instructions from anybody including the Philippine government.
   
“I pledged to perform my duties and exercise my function on a completely impartial, loyal, standpoint and truthfully. I cannot give oath to the government. This will undermine the impartiality which is the heart of my mandate. I hope they will review my letter and agree to proceed on the basis of the code of conduct of special rapporteurs.”
   
She explained the results of the investigation should be highly confidential since it involves sensitive matters.
   
“The necessity of building trust— the necessity of private contact with the people in the context of a mission, this trust need to be firmed, it need to be maintained it need to be reinforced. I cannot build trust including with the police or the government if there is a threat of public debate at the end of the mission.”
   
She said there is also necessity of respect — respect for the life, respect for the loss of life, respect for the victims, respect for police, and respect for families.
     
“All I can produce are preliminary findings and these cannot be the object of a public debate,” she said.
   
Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said “it’s up to her to accept the conditions. And if she can’t it will amount to her rejection of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s invitation.”