The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted to investigate the thousands of killings in the Philippines tied to President Rodrigo Duterte’s ongoing war on drugs, a move which the country’s foreign minister quickly denounced as unjust.
The resolution was put forward by Iceland at the Human Rights Council in Geneva Thursday and passed with 18 votes. Fifteen countries abstained, and 14 voted against it.
International human rights groups and UN bodies have previously expressed concerns about the Duterte administration’s scorched earth-approach in its efforts to eradicate the methamphetamine trade.
The Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Teodoro L. Locsin Jr., said the UN Human Rights Council’s decision Thursday “flies in the face of everything the Philippines has worked for when it founded the Human Rights Council.” The council was formed in 2006 by a UN general assembly resolution.
“We will not accept a politically partisan and one-sided resolution, so detached from the truth on the ground. It comes straight from the mouth of the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, ‘First the judgment, then the proof,'” Locsin said in a statement.
“Do not presume to threaten states with accountability for a tough approach to crushing crime,” he also said.
Duterte said he would consider the proposed investigation. “Let them state their purpose and I will review, he told reporters Thursday, CNN Philippines reported.
Duterte’s critics contend that his government is engaging in gross human rights abuses by using extrajudicial killings against drug dealers.
The Philippines National Police have said more than 6,600 have been killed during anti-drug operations, but independent monitors believe the numbers are much higher.
A 3-year-old girl was shot dead in a drug operation on June 29, and that killing has brought renewed focus to the civilian cost of the war on drugs. It’s believed that she could be the youngest victim of the drug war. Police said they will investigate her killing, CNN affiliate CNN Philippines reported.
“Three years on, President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ continues to be nothing but a large-scale murdering enterprise for which the poor continue to pay the highest price,” Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s regional director for East and Southeast Asia, said in a statement.
Duterte and his administration have long voiced opposition to international criticism to the drug war, claiming it is the government’s sovereign right to protect the Philippines people from the scourge of addiction.
When the International Criminal Court announced it was beginning a preliminary inquiry into the anti-drug campaign, Duterte ordered his officers not to cooperate using the colorful rhetorical style that has endeared him with voters.
“You’re investigating us? Fact finding? Sorry, do not f*** with me,” Duterte said shortly after the ICC announcement last year.
“Who are you to interfere in the way I would run my country? You know very well that we are being swallowed by drugs.”
Despite the outcry abroad and his divisive ruling style, his war on drugs and his administration’s attacks against the free press, Duterte has remained popular at home.
Duterte’s allies — including three of his children — posted resounding victories during midterm elections in May, a contest that was largely seen as a referendum on his first three years in office.