CHITO GASCON. Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Chito Gascon. Photo by Jodesz Gavilan/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Chito Gascon clarified on Thursday, May 4, that Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard is not in the country to conduct an official investigation.
"She is here not in her official function as special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings to conduct a visit," he explained. "She’s here under a separate program of the United Nations for what is referred to as an academic visit."
Callamard was spotted during the 30th anniversary event of the CHR in Diliman, Quezon City. She refused to grant interviews to the media. (LOOK: UN expert Agnes Callamard here)
.@rapplerdotcom LOOK: UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard is here in PH but refuses to grant interviews to the media. Photo by Mark Saludes @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/tWIsftiaAQ
— Jodesz Gavilan (@jodeszgavilan) May 4, 2017
Gascon said the Special Rapporteur is attending a two-day conference on drug policy and extrajudicial killings upon the invitation of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).
An "academic visit," he added, is one of the ways UN officials visit a country.
"So when a state is unable to or unwilling to send an official invitation to a special rapporteur to conduct an official visit, the special rapporteurs are still able to find a way to come on an academic visit mission," Gascon explained.
This was different from what President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday afternoon.
He said the reason why she is here is to investigate extrajudicial killings related to his war on drugs.
Gascon, meanwhile, said that the Philippine government should already extend an invitation since Callamard is here anyway.
The Special Rapporteur had been extended an invitation by the Duterte administration via a letter dated September 26, 2016 but it came with conditions.
The CHR and other rights group, meanwhile, will "take advantage" of Callamard’s presence in the Philippines to bring forth the issue of human rights related to the war on drugs.
"We welcome her presence here and we will take advantage of her presence while she’s here to have a conversation even if it is informal," Gascon said. – Rappler.com