Following Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s string of comments against United Nations (UN) human rights activists has prompted the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to suggest the leader seek psychiatric help.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Friday, March 9 that Duterte’s recent barrage of profanity-laced insults against human rights officials suggests that the latter needs a “psychiatric evaluation.”
“It makes one believe that the president of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation,” Al Hussein said during a news conference in Geneva.
This week Duterte lashed out at UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Agnes Callamard, calling her “undernourished.” Since taking office, Callamard has been a subject of Duterte’s tirades for speaking up against his anti-illegal drugs campaign.
“This is absolutely disgraceful that the president of a country could speak in this way, using the foulest of language against a rapporteur that is highly respected,” Al Hussein remarked.
Such verbal attacks, the UN human rights chief said, are “unacceptable” and “cannot go unanswered.”
On Wednesday, March 8, Duterte lambasted Callamard and International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, whom he referred to as “the black one.”
The ICC is currently conducting a preliminary examination into the Philippine government’s drug war, a move that apparently earned the ire of the Filipino leader.
In his speech, Duterte insisted that international human rights bodies have no jurisdiction over him, telling Callamard and Bensouda not to mess with him.
“Go ahead, you investigate me. But I assure you, you will never have jurisdiction over my person,” Duterte remarked.
He continued: “They can pursue it, but if we meet along the way, especially their lawyers, the black one and the other one who is skinny, Callamard, undernourished, does not eat—Don’t f*** with me, girls.”
In a separate statement, UN rights experts also expressed grave concern over the terrorism accusations hurled against Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.
“We are shocked that the Special Rapporteur is being targeted because of her work defending the rights of indigenous peoples,” said Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Michel Forst and Coordination Committee of the Special Procedures Chair Catalina Devandas Aguilar.
Tauli-Corpuz, a Philippine national, was included in a list of at least 600 alleged communist rebels the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) wants to be declared “terrorists.”
The list was included in a petition the DOJ submitted to the Metro Manila Regional Trial Court last month, which sought “terrorist” labels on alleged leaders and members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).
“The accusation against her comes after the public comments made, jointly with other Special Rapporteurs, in relation to the militarization, attacks and killings of indigenous Lumad peoples by members of the armed forces in Mindanao; this accusation is considered as an act of retaliation for such comments,” the experts said.
They called on Philippine authorities “to immediately drop these unfounded accusations against Ms. Tauli-Corpuz and to ensure her physical safety and that of others listed.”
In her own statement, Tauli-Corpuz denounced the accusations against her.
“I am not connected at all in any way to those organizations nor do I have any knowledge, much less participation, with the alleged incidents cited in the petition,” she said.
She added, “I will address this baseless, malicious and irresponsible inclusion of my name even as I am consulting my lawyers on what legal courses of action to take to clear my name and even make accountable those who put my life and security at risk.”