Palace twits Callamard for ‘surprise visit’

MANILA-- MalacaAang on Friday expressed disappointment over UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Agnes Callamard's "surprise visit" to the Philippines as it raised questions on her objectivity and professionalism in carrying out her mandate as UN investigator.

"We are aware that Dr. Callamard is currently in the Philippines and we are disappointed that, in not contacting our government in advance of this visit, she has sent a clear signal that she is not interested in getting an objective perspective on the issues that are the focus of her responsibility," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

Callamard is in the Philippines to attend a conference on drug policy organized by the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), a group of lawyers handling various human rights cases in the country, at the University of the Philippines.

In his statement, Abella underscored the fact that on September 26, 2016, the Philippine government had issued an invitation for Callamard to visit the country to get the government's perspective on the drug menace confronting the country and the efforts of law enforcement and others to address that challenge within the means allowed by Philippine law.

The Palace official said that the invitation made it clear that the Philippine government respected Callamard as a professional and that we very much wanted her to see the situation on the ground first-hand and engage in an exchange of views with officials in our government to understand our position on the issue of human rights and the progress being made in the Philippines.

The fact that Dr. Callamard did not respond to our invitation showed that she would not be approaching her review of allegations concerning our country objectively or comprehensively, Abella said.

He added that this assessment has been reinforced by the fact that the UN Rapporteur has arrived in the Philippines in a manner that circumvents all recognized United Nations protocols for such visits and, more importantly, at the very time the government has a senior-level delegation traveling to Geneva to meet with officials of the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as part of the 3rd Cycle of the Universal Period Review of the Philippines and the issue of human rights.

Her actions since then, and the circumstances surrounding her current visit, have made it clear that Dr. Callamard is not approaching her assignment professionally or objectively. This is a matter we have asked our representatives at the United Nations to take up with their United Nations counterparts and it is something our delegation in Geneva will certainly be raising during their current visit, he said.

Our position is very clear, if Dr. Callamard is committed to ensuring due process to our government and a truly objective assessment of our record on an issue of tremendous importance to our nation, she should be in Geneva meeting with our representatives, Abella said.

Source: Philippines News Agency