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Manila ‘to only allow UN drug war probe by credible envoy’

This file photo, taken on October 3, 2017, shows a woman grieving over the dead body of her son, an alleged drug user killed by unidentified assailants, in Manila, the Philippines. (By AFP)

A senior Philippine official has announced that Manila would only permit a probe into alleged rights abuses in its fierce drug war if a “credible” United Nations (UN) official is assigned to the job.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, said on Tuesday that the government would welcome any investigation into the matter provided that the UN dispatched a “credible, objective and unbiased” rapporteur, who is also “an authority in the field that they seek to investigate.”

“Definitely, not Agnes Callamard,” insisted Roque, referring to the UN’s current American rapporteur, who is the world body’s specialist on extrajudicial killings, and summary and arbitrary executions.

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, speaks during a press conference in San Salvador, on February 5, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The presidential spokesman said Callamard did not fit into that description, adding, “It’s her fault the home state does not want her in.”

Roque said he even had a lawyer in mind who could do the job instead of Callamard but did not elaborate.

A prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague started a preliminary examination earlier this month into a complaint accusing Duterte and at least 11 other officials of crimes against humanity. Duterte has welcomed that investigation.

The development came after more than 30 mainly Western governments demanded that Manila allow Callamard to probe thousands of alleged drug-related killings in Duterte’s 19-month-old crackdown on drug dealers and distributors across the Philippines.

An alleged drug dealer is captured by policemen after a drug buy-bust operation on a slum area in Manila, the Philippines, on September 28, 2017.  (Photo by AFP)

Duterte has previously said that he would welcome a probe by Callamard on the condition that she agrees to have a public debate with him.

The American rapporteur annoyed the Philippines’ government last May when she gave a speech at a policy forum during a visit to the country in an unofficial capacity.

According to Western press reports, more than 4,000 Filipinos have been killed by police forces during the government’s war on drugs.

Additionally, some human rights groups and Duterte’s political opponents say that the alleged execution of drug users and small-time peddlers are commonplace and systematic, despite fierce denials by authorities, who say that those killed were all dealers who had put up violent resistance.

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