Let’s just come out and say it – the United Nations sending career Prog-Leftist, Agnes Callamard, to look dispassionately at alleged links between the Philippine administration’s war on drugs and extrajudicial killings is like the Allgemeine SS dispatching a Gestapo investigator to scrutinize a Jewish family over allegations that its members had criticised the Third Reich, or stolen a piece of blutworst. In both cases, the level of objectivity would be the same. And for precisely the same reason – they already made their judgement even before they set off to ‘investigate’.
Here, President Rodrigo Duterte is very much in the firing line of the UN and special rapporteur Callamard: part of what’s to be investigated is his alleged complicity in those alleged off-the-books killings. However, he’s graciously allowed Callamard to make her ‘fact-finding’ trip – but with three provisos: (1) that Mz Callamard take part in a public debate with the president and before the assembled media; (2) that in that debate, Duterte may question Callamard; (3) that Mz Callamard take an oath before the debate.
Not exactly stringent requirements but, apparently, too tough for the special rapporteur. She argues that this should be a highly confidential matter; not for public consumption. Duterte, a champion of the Freedom of Information Act, believes it should be a transparent one. Oddly, she has no problem going on CNN Philippines to voice her concerns, but an open forum is out of the question.
Callamard also claims that a debate would not be consistent with “the code of conduct for special rapporteurs”. He believes that public debate is wholly in line with the country’s democratic principles and, basically, that they should take precedence over some vague house rules established for UN staff.
All this, though, is a fiasco waiting to happen. We know the result of the inquiry now; Callamard’s trip to the Philippines and her “investigations” are nothing more than window dressing.
Boiled down, there are two clear reasons why the UN and, in particular, this particular special rapporteur cannot give a fair assessment of allegations leveled against the Philippine leadership in establishing whether it’s been complicit in extrajudicial killings associated with President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.
Back in August, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, along with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime railed against Duterte’s “apparent endorsement of extrajudicial killings” which it seemed to attribute exclusively to the president’s narcotics war. In other words, more than four months ago the UN had already made up its mind.
Mz Callamard, meanwhile, is totally compromised as an impartial reporter. First she’ll be expected (and will want) to echo and substantiate the UN’s opinion – actually, its pre-judgement. And secondly, her background is steeped in partisanism. She is a former Chef de Cabinet for the Secretary-General of Amnesty International and a former research-policy coordinator for Amnesty – an organisation at the forefront of the global anti-Duterte movement which has been attacking the president for months.
On its website, under the heading ‘Philippines: Stop encouraging murder’, it has this to say – “President Duterte is actively encouraging people to kill anyone connected with the drugs trade”. And it adds: “[Duterte is] denying his citizens the right to life, the right to fair criminal proceedings – amongst many other basic rights”. No equivocation there then. Case proven. Rubber stamp please, Mz Callamard.
Also in August, the special rapporteur, herself, said this: “Directives of this nature are irresponsible in the extreme and amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law”. She was referencing remarks made by Duterte in a campaign speech which on the face of it, among other things, seemed to give a licence to kill suspected drug traffickers who don’t surrender. In fact, he was sending a strong message to the drug syndicates about the fate that awaits them if they persist in poisoning his people.
The point is Callamard is compromised – at best by association; at worst by her own vested interest. Consequently, there’s not a snowball’s hope in Hell that the Philippine leadership – notably Duterte and his police chief, Ronald Dela Rosa – will receive a fair and unbiased adjudication from someone so deeply steeped in anti-Duterte sentiment.
And, of course, her assessment of the situation will be based in no small measure on what’s been fed to her by the likes of the self-proclaimed leading authority on “killer Duterte”, the swaggering and boundlessly ambitious Leila De Lima; senator on a mission to have him deposed, install fellow Liberal Party harridan, Leni Robredo – the accidental Vice President – and, who knows from there, probably get the badge of Foreign Secretary. Like Robredo, she loves to travel.
Callamard will make a few token visits to interview prisoners and families of those slain – and there’ll be batteries of supportive media on hand. She’ll consult with human rights groups in the Philippines and other members of the anti-Duterte camp. And then she’ll deliver the judgement she had in her handbag when she left Paris or Geneva or wherever she hailed from. Of course, it’ll be light on proof; unless we count selected anecdote, conspiracy theory, snide analysis and corrupted evidence. But none of that will matter; this is a UN judgement; by definition, sacrosanct; unchallengeable.
The statement of Callamard’s findings might read something like this. “After exhaustive investigations into the matter of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, the UN is satisfied that there is sufficient reason to warrant its concerns that human rights are being violated against the Filipino people in the government’s pursuit of its war on illegal drugs; and that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte must take responsibility for these violations. The UN finds that the president’s incendiary rhetoric has been used as a call to arms by the criminal elements that have carried out the extrajudicial killings”. In other words it will be vague yet heavily loaded against Duterte.
It will certainly be enough for the Lib-media to write their headlines and their op-eds calling for Duterte’s resignation, and provide Duterte’s detractors in Congress with the bullet to fire off the “I” word – Impeach!
What it won’t do, however, is make a scrap of difference. The UN is as despised in the Philippines as the president is loved. By inverse proportion, given Duterte’s 92% positive rating with his people that would put the UN at the opposite end of the scale; in low single digits.
And so what it also won’t do is raise the UN’s image in this region of the world. The UN’s jack-booting attempts to get smaller nations to fall in line with its One World aspirations by force-feeding its demands as it tramples national sovereignties underfoot, are wearing thin. As too is its veil for upholding humanitarian causes.
The fact is, Duterte’s war on illegal drugs is Duterte’s humanitarian cause. He wants his people to live in a land where narcotics don’t steal its sons and daughters, enslaving them in addiction, rotting their brains and their bodies as they stagger through a haze to early graves. That’s what he wants, that’s what he’s doing and there isn’t a single leader in the whole of Southeast Asia that doesn’t support him. So we must assume that this entire region is out of step as far as Mz Callamard is concerned.