UNITED Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard said Friday that she is in the Philippines not to gather information about the alleged extrajudicial killings here.
"I am here solely for the purpose of the conference and policy forum. I am not here on an official visit," Callamard told reporters after delivering a speech during the first day of the policy forum on "Drug Issues, Different Perspectives" held at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Quezon City.
The FLAG Anti-Death Penalty Task Force in cooperation with the Office of the Chancellor-UP Diliman and the Institute of Human Rights-UP College of Law organized the two-day forum.
"I am here in response to an invitation to participate to an academic conference. I will be present for the full two days and listening with great attention. It’s an important conference, an important benchmark which I support," Callamard said.
Asked if she has a plan of reaching out to President Rodrigo Duterte or to the government while in the country, she said, "No. It's only for the purpose of an academic conference."
In her speech, Callamard cited a Joint Commitment made by world leaders assembled at the United Nations headquarters a year ago affirming the "importance of systematic data collection, evidence gathering, scientific research and the sharing of information including the exchange of best practices related to preventing and countering drug-related crime.
"What governments did not commit to last year was 'the war on drugs' approach. Quite to the contrary. They called for what amounts to a balanced, multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary approach, and they placed great emphasis on health, rights, and justice. They did not suggest that death penalty was an appropriate or effective response to drugs trafficking, let alone drug use; Instead, they spoke about proportionate sentencing and alternative punishments," she said.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella hit Callamard's trip to the Philippines, saying her visit, without contacting the government, 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."
Callamard has been criticizing Duterte's war on drugs, which resulted to the death of thousands of people, who were allegedly involved in illegal drug trade. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)