President-elect Rodrigo Duterte should stop making comments that are “unbecoming of any leader let alone someone who is to assume the position of the leader of a country that calls itself democratic”, two independent United Nations-based experts on summary executions and freedom of expression said in a statement on Tuesday, June 7.
UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions Christof Heyns and UN Special Rapporteur on freedom opinion and expression David Kaye were appalled by Duterte’s recent pronouncements against the killing of Filipino journalists and his hefty bounty offer to anyone who would capture a drug lord “dead or alive”.
When asked about his stand on media killings during a press conference in Davao City, Duterte said: “Freedom of expression won’t save you. . . . the Constitution cannot help you (if you malign a person)”.
The former mayor also mentioned as an example his critic, Jun Pala, a local radio broadcaster who was killed in 2003.
“Just because you are a journalist, you are not exempted from assassination if you are a s– of a b—-,” Duterte said.
He also said that some journalists were killed because they were “corrupt.”
“A message of this nature amounts to incitement to violence and killing, in a nation already ranked as the second-deadliest country for journalists,” said Heyns.
“These comments are irresponsible in the extreme, and unbecoming of any leader, let alone someone who is to assume the position of the leader of a country that calls itself democratic,” Heyns said.
Kaye said that “justifying the killing of journalists on the basis of how they conduct their professional activities can be understood as a permissive signal to potential killers that the murder of journalists is acceptable in certain circumstances and would not be punished.”
“This position is even more disturbing when one considers that Philippines is still struggling to ensure accountability to notorious cases of violence against journalists, such as the Maguindanao massacre,” said Kaye.
Kaye was referring to the 32 journalists who were among 58 murdered in what has come to be known as the Maguindanao Massacre in 2009. The perpetrators have yet to be brought to justice.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said that 77 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 1992.
Heyns also expressed concern over Duterte’s P5 million bounty offer to anyone who could capture a drug lord “dead or alive.
“Talk of ‘dead or alive’ has no role to play in any state that claims to uphold human rights in law enforcement, Intentional lethal use of force may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life and not for common policing objectives,” said Heyns.
Heyns also said: “The President-elect fools no one when he says he is not calling on people to be killed.”
Click here for the full statement: