The United Nations’ (UN) human rights office on Tuesday, Nov. 21, rebuked Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for issuing threats against special rapporteur on summary executions Agnes Callamard.
In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Rupert Colville said the international body condemned “in stronger terms” the insults and threats of physical violence made by the Filipino leader.
“Last week Mr. Duterte threatened to slap Ms. Callamard if she investigates him for alleged extrajudicial killings,” Colville said, adding that Duterte “made the same threat” against Callamard in June.
On Nov. 9, the Filipino leader warned Callamard that he will “slap” her if she insisted on probing his drug war.
“Kung imbestigahin mo ako, sampalin kita (If you investigate me, I will slap you),” the president said then in a speech before the Filipino community in Vietnam.
Callamard has repeatedly expressed the intent to investigate “all unlawful deaths” that allegedly transpired under what she described as a “cruel” campaign in the Philippines—earning the ire of Duterte.
Data from the government showed around 3,900 drug suspects were killed during drug war operations for reportedly resisting arrest. Police have also repeatedly claimed that there were zero cases of extrajudicial killings.
Defending Callamard, Colville noted that the special rapporteur “has clearly been acting fully in line with her mandate when commenting on the situation in the Philippines.”
“This campaign, coupled with the repeated personal attacks on Ms. Callamard by President Duterte, seems to be designed to intimidate her into not carrying out the mandate bestowed on her by the Human Rights Council,” Colville added.
According to him, Callamard has also been recently “subjected to a tirade of online abuse, including physical threats, during what appears to be a prolonged and well-orchestrated trolling operation across the internet and on social media.”
He went on to say, “We condemn this treatment of Ms. Callamard, and the disrespect it shows to the Human Rights Council that appointed her, in the strongest terms.”
Responding to the international body’s latest criticism against him, Duterte challenged the UN human rights office to face him.
“Sabihin mo sa kanya, harapin niya ako dito, p**** talaga hiritan. Binabastos niya tayo (Tell them to face me here. They are being rude to us),” the chief executive said in a media briefing at the 65th general assembly of the League of Cities of the Philippines on Tuesday.
Duterte insisted that Callamard contradicts the UN’s own report when she supposedly believed a “black doctor” who qualified that “the use of drugs is harmless,” referring to Columbia University neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart.
The chief executive pointed out that the doctor’s statement contradicts a UN report entitled “International Narcotics Control Board Precursors and Chemicals Frequently Used in the Illicit Manufacture of Narcotic Drugs and Tropic Substances 2014,” which stated that the use of methamphetamine or shabu “sometimes triggers aggressive, violent and bizarre behavior among users.”