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Karapatan files complaints to UN experts over Duterte's threats, vilification.

Rights group Karapatan filed letters of complaints to United Nations independent experts on the 'persistent and repeated' threats and vilification that it has received from President Rodrigo Duterte.

It noted that the harassments hurled by the chief executive incited the military and police forces to quell Karapatan human rights workers and other organizations in the country.

'Duterte has alleged six times in his speeches and press conferences that Karapatan is a 'legal front' of the Communist Party of the Philippines, further making our human rights workers on the ground targets of state forces and considered fair game to any and all form of state-sponsored attacks,' Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

She noted that many of Karapatan's human rights defenders have been subjected to harassment, intimidation and extrajudicial killings by state forces.

'We are being targeted for speaking out against the murderous and tyrannical Duterte regime. We will continue to exhaust all mechanism for redress and protection and exact accountability from the Duterte regime and its state forces,' Palabay said.

The Karapatan secretary general said that such allegations violate the freedom of association and expression.

Palabay sent the organization's letters of complaints to UN special rapporteur on the situation on human rights defenders Michel Forst, special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association Annalisa Ciampi, special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye and special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard.

The rights group had earlier filed complaints to Callamard and Forst last year over allegations of extrajudicial killings linked to the government's counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan.

Philippine government vs Callamard

Palabay also hit presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.'s statement on the proposed visit of Callamard to investigate the government's drug war.

She said that the singling out of Callamard shows the administration's apprehension in being probed for human rights violations linked with the war on drugs.

'Indeed, when the guilty is put on the defensive, they resort to ad hominem tirades and outright bullying. The Duterte regime and its mouthpieces are but cowards who like to maintain a tough faced, but are actually panic-stricken and scared of the findings being used to finally bring justice to the victims of this regime's anti-people policies,' Palabay said.

Roque on Tuesday said it is open to Iceland's renewed call for an investigation into the drug war killings but insisted that the inquiry should not be led by Callamard, who has earned the ire of the administration.

Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council Monday, Iceland Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson called on the Philippines to allow a special rapporteur to conduct an investigation without conditions into the extrajudicial killings.

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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Date:Mar 1, 2018
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