CHR challenges palace anew: Agree to independent probe on alleged EJKs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 24) — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is challenging Malacanang to agree to a United Nations call for an independent investigation on alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs).

“If the government really believes that it is now coming clean it will address human rights more thoroughly then it should issue those standing invitations and remove any preconditions,” CHR Chairman Chito Gascon said in an interview.

A standing invitation would allow special rapporteurs to conduct free and unhindered investigations on alleged EJKs. Gascon says over 11 special rapporteurs requested to visit the country.

He said the best way to prove policemen do not carry out summary killings is to allow independent investigations on deaths during anti-drug operations.

Gascon’s challenge comes after the government rejected last Tuesday over half of 257 recommendations by the United Nations Human Rights Council from its periodic review of the Philippines in May.

Most of the recommendations that were rejected pertained to investigating alleged EJKs.

READ: PH rejects over half of human rights recommendations of UN

While the CHR lauded the government in accepting 103 other recommendations, Gascon said the rejection of other proposals essentially means “the Philippine government in the face of the world is in denial.”

"The first step in addressing this important issue is an acknowledgment that something is wrong, unfortunately the Philippines has failed to step up in a spirit of wanting to cooperate with the international community," he said.

He also urged the police to honor an earlier commitment to cooperate with the CHR, saying they never did because the President apparently prohibited the release of case files on anti-drug campaign-related deaths.

"(The) administration, while it is trying to present its best foot forward, is falling short because it is not coming clean in terms of what it knows...are they just dribbling, going thru the motions but not really interested in helping us uncover the truth," Gascon said.

This periodic review is a mechanism aimed at improving human rights situations in each UN member state. Aside from issues pertaining to the drug war, the government also rejected a recommendation to stop the reimposition of death penalty, and lowering the age of criminality.

In a message during the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept. 22, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano explained President Duterte launched the anti-drug campaign to save lives and protect communities.

Cayetano also told countries critical of the policy not to dictate on the Philippines and to respect its sovereignty.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent AC Nicholls contributed to this report.