Government News Analysis

Unfit for purpose

Agnes Callamard, United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
Agnes Callamard, United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

There’s one clear reason why Agnes Callamard (photo) – the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions – cannot assist in any reporting on alleged links between the Philippines’ War on Drugs and alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs); she’s prejudiced against the person of President Rodrigo Duterte. Therefore any attestation provided by her, far from serving justice would corrupt and impede it.

What’s happening right now is verging on a mob court – precisely the sort of tribal justice which the UN is sworn to oppose. Impartiality has been replaced by the baying of the mob; calls to prosecute Duterte as the basic principles of justice are cast aside. Objectivity has been rejected in favour of political expediency. This, then, is a sham inquiry; the findings have already been decided.

Nemo judex in causa sua is the Latin phrase for “No-one should be a judge in his own case”. It’s a fundamental principle of ‘natural justice’, which in English law precludes bias.

And there’s no doubt that Duterte’s alleged role in EJKs is fast becoming the UN’s own case. Two days ago 32 member-countries of the United Nations – all European – expressed “deep concerns” over the president’s War on Drugs, urging that Callamard be allowed into the Philippines to conduct her investigations.

Expressing those concerns – and once more prejudicing the outcome of any future discovery – Iceland’s permanent representative to the UN, Högni Kristjánsson, said this: “We are alarmed that over 7,000 people have reportedly been killed since the anti-drug campaign was launched last July, many in circumstances which remain unexplained”.

Well, they have “reportedly been killed”. That figure and even higher ones come from unsubstantiated articles in the anti-Duterte media – no corroborative evidence has ever been produced to back them up. All this, then, is part of a blatant hit job aimed at undermining and bringing down the Philippine president. In short, it’s political and loaded against Duterte. And so what’s really deeply concerning is that this vendetta is being driven by the UN.

If wild media reports are the basis for UN inquiries, then the organisation should send a special rapporteur to Eastern Russia. On 21 February the UK’s Daily Express published this story – “Russian soldiers zapped by aliens after shooting down UFO, declassified CIA report claims”. Six days later, an Estonian tabloid, Vecherka, did its own follow-up – “CIA: aliens killed 23 soldiers in Siberia, turning them into stone (PHOTO, VIDEO)”.

To date, most publicity concerning Callamard, the UN and its brother-in-arms, the European Union – as it relates to the situation in the Philippines – has been grossly prejudicial against the Philippine president and certain members of his law enforcement, and has more in common with the courts of the Middle Ages than it does with modern-day law. Indeed, the UN is starting to look like a throwback to the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition. The UN’s modus operandi where Duterte is concerned is starkly similar.

The Spanish Inquisition, as it’s more commonly known, sought to repress anything that ran contrary to the orthodoxy of the Roman Church. Such things were seen as a threat to its authority and had to be stopped at all costs. Duterte is undoubtedly seen by the UN as a political heretic – his switch in foreign policy away from the US towards China and Russia would seem to be the main basis for this. Thus, in the eyes of the Western establishment, the interests of which the UN represents, he’s been found culpable of seriously weakening Western influence in East Asia by aligning with what that same establishment regards as the two biggest sources of heresy on the planet. Now he needs to be stopped.

False denunciations were common during the Inquisition – just as they are right now over this issue. In effect, Callamard is no different to the ‘witchfinders’ send out by the Tribunal to rubber stamp the guilt of those whose names it had received from those who’d made the accusations – often people with their own agendas. Once brought to the attention of the Inquisitors they were already deemed guilty. It was just a matter then of going through the motions of justice; a ritual of sham inquiries.

And what’s happening here is very similar. Duterte has been incriminated by his political opponents to fulfill their agenda. And on their say-so the UN is demanding he be brought to account. Callamard has been left in no doubt as to the UN’s position with regards to Duterte’s culpability. Her job now, like the witchfinders of old, is merely to endorse the UN’s stated belief in a report which she’ll submit to the UN Human Rights Council, a body that’s already expressed its concerns about the drugs-war/EJK links.

In the High Court of Justice in London in the early 1920s, Lord Chief Justice Hewart made a critical judgement which has remained a treasured legal ethic ever since. He said: “Not only must justice be done; it must also be seen to be done”. And with that he set the precedence that the mere appearance of bias is sufficient to overturn a judicial decision.

These are principles that hold courts to high standards and thereby uphold their credibility. A judge cannot consort with the plaintiff in a case and then deliver a judgement in the plaintiff’s favour and expect all other parties to accept it as non-prejudicial. It would be a farce. Indeed, a judge who found himself in that situation would automatically recuse himself from any further part in the proceedings. There could be a conflict of interest – certainly there would be the impression of such.

Now, let’s set those principles against what we know so far about the UN’s stated preconceptions about what’s taken place in the Philippines. First of all, these are all based on one-sided accounts from vehemently anti-Duterte human-rights groups, the Liberal Party and the rest of political opposition in the Philippine Congress, the international Liberal movement and blatantly biased reports from the anti-Duterte media, both local and foreign. These groups and interests regularly consort with each other; their common bond is their mutual loathing of Duterte.

Back in August, then-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 10 months ago the UN had already made up its mind. This was more than innuendo; Ban Ki-Moon was already signally the UN’s position.

On that alone Callamard is compromised as an impartial rapporteur. She’ll be expected (and will want) to echo and substantiate the UN’s opinion – that early pre-judgement. And that makes her unfit for purpose.

Also in August, Callamard 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 and shooting his police officers.

Pre-determining that Duterte has been responsible for “incitement to violence and killing,” again is a highly inflammatory statement and again should be sufficient to exclude Callamard from having any part in investigating the alleged EJKs. But there’s more.

On 5 May the UN rapporteur slipped into the Philippines unannounced to give a speech on drug policy at the University of the Philippines – a two-day forum entitled “Drug Issue, Different Perspectives”, sponsored by Duterte’s opponents. Callamard claimed: “There is nothing about my visit that is official. I came here for the academic conference”.

Certainly, there was nothing official about it; she never saw anyone from the government – she made no attempt to; not even a courtesy call. But there’s every reason to suspect it wasn’t solely academic either, given the company she was keeping at the forum – Liberal Party supporters, human-rights lawyers and, of course, the ever-present anti-Duterte media. Like most everything else she does where the Philippines is concerned, this gathering had strong political undertones. And she was certainly consorting with parties that have a vested interest in bringing about Duterte’s removal from power.

Moreover, Callamard’s background is steeped in partisanism. She’s 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 since before he took office.

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”.

And those highly charged prejudicial statements from Amnesty – one of Callamard’s main sources for her reporting – in themselves should be enough to disqualify her outright. Her credibility as an impartial observer is tarnished beyond repair.

Those 32 representatives of European countries also called on the Philippines to effect prompt, independent and credible investigations into all violent deaths (referring to the alleged EJKs). But that can’t happen with Callamard and it can’t happen under the auspices of the UN, neither of which is ‘independent’ or ‘credible’. They’re both damaged goods as far as impartial justice is concerned.

The UN projects a dismal image to many countries around the world. It’s seen as the protector of the interests of the industrialised world which pays for its upkeep and as a precursor of the One World Order for Global Government. And over the Philippine issue it’s shown to be a political tool of the Western establishment charged with maintaining the status quo.

It’s also widely regarded as hugely corrupt – being described as “little more than an enormous watering hole” – administratively inept and largely unaccountable. It’s criticised for its inability to prevent crises and even to enforce its own resolutions. To that CV we can add that it plays fast and loose with principles of justice to achieve political ends.

And so in its handling of the Philippines the UN has rewritten Lord Chief Justice Hewart’s judgement which now reads thus: “Not only is prejudice acceptable, in the interests of political expediency it is required”.

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