U.N. special rapporteur: All killings by the police should be probed

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Killings involving the police could be extrajudicial and must be investigated, said United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard.

"Any death at the hands of the state, meaning any death caused by the state, is in and by itself a possible extrajudicial killing," Callamard told CNN Philippines in an exclusive interview with anchor Amelyn Veloso on New Day.

President Rodrigo Duterte launched a brutal war on drugs that has resulted in over 5,000 deaths since his assumption of office in July.

Callamard noted that around 2,000 of these deaths were during police operations, which must all be investigated.

"We can't determine whether any death by the state is extrajudicial or not in the absence of an investigation," said Callamard.

She added that the Senate probe on the issue, which concluded that the state was not involved in the killings, only covered the cases of those outside police operations.

"As far as I know, as far as I have read, the deaths at the hand of the police have not been the object of individual investigation," Callamard said. "And therefore it's impossible to determine whether any of those deaths are indeed extrajudicial."

While there are investigations, they only "concern unlawful death in unexplained circumstances."

"But the deaths at the hands of the police should also be the object of an investigation," Callamard emphasized.

Callamard also noted that extrajudicial killings were those that "occurred outside judicial process," and that there are international standards that determine whether certain deaths fall within this scope.

She said that the steps taken in investigations also covered "the code of conduct" and "basic principles on the use of force and firearms" for law enforcement officials.

"Allow me to highlight the fact that this code of conduct (is) among the international standards that have been the most agreed, debated (upon), and that there is a universal consensus on these guidelines," Callamard added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs invited Callamard to probe the human rights violations in the Philippines, but on conditions that included a public debate, questioning by the President, and an oath taking.

Related: U.N. special rapporteur won’t bend to Duterte’s probe conditions

Callamard said that she still hopes to visit the Philippines, but said this is up to the Philippine government.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Charles Jose said the probe may not push through with Callamard's rejection of the conditions.