Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine president, has fuelled an extraordinary war of words with the United Nations by saying that its human rights team should be fed to crocodiles if they come to investigate his drugs crackdown.
The threat came in a week in which Duterte had called Agnes Callamard, the UN’s rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, “undernourished”, while Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, said Duterte should see a psychiatrist.
The president made the comments as he addressed soldiers and tried to justify his order for police to ignore inspectors who want to investigate his war on drugs, which human rights groups allege has claimed more than 12,000 lives. “If these fools come here, are there crocodiles here? The ones that eat people? Throw those sons of b–– to them,” he said, the Philippine Star newspaper reported.
A Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent secures part of a street holding residents temporarily during a drug raid in Maharlika Village, Taguig, south of Manila on February 28, 2018.
According to official statistics, about 4,000 Filipinos have been killed by police in a nationwide campaign against drug dealers and users since Duterte came to power in mid-2016. Thousands of others have been executed by masked assassins.
The police claim they only fire on those resisting arrest. Duterte told officers to refuse to answer questions by investigators on summary executions, so that they do not incriminate themselves.
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He said. “The best way is to just keep silent. Just tell them, ‘We have a commander-in-chief.’ Haven’t I told you? I take full responsibility.”
Zeid’s comments were in response to a Filipino government decision to include Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a UN expert on the rights of indigenous peoples, on a list of 600 people they want to class as terrorists.