The UN lambasts Philippines president for “striking lack of understanding” of human rights

Protests against Philippines killings
Protests against Philippines killings
Image: (AP/Aaron Favila)
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The Philippines’ firebrand president Rodrigo Duterte has had a headline-filled couple of weeks.

First, he publicly apologized for calling US president Barack Obama a “son of a whore,” missing out on a meeting with him in the process. This week, he called for the US to leave a southern Philippines military base and caught his generals off-guard by announcing he wanted to stop buying US military equipment.

Now, he’s incurred the wrath of the UN’s top human rights official, who hit out at the thousands of killings–many without trial and by vigilantes–of Filipinos allegedly involved in drug-dealing.

“[Duterte’s] statements of scorn for international human rights law display a striking lack of understanding of our human rights institutions and the principles which keep societies safe,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a speech.

It’s unlikely Al Hussein’s speech will have much of an effect on a man who boasted in August that ”I don’t care about human rights, believe me.” He added he will keep his ‘shoot-to-kill’ order against alleged drug dealers ”until the last day of my term, if I’m still alive by then.”

Given that Duterte called Pope Francis a “son of a whore” (his country has about 76 million Catholics) for causing traffic during a visit to Manila this year and threatened to leave the UN during a spat with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, don’t expect him to treat Al Hussein any more gently.

The killings had taken 2,956 lives as of the beginning of this week.