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UN to boost Manila’s investigative capacity

THE PHILIPPINE Justice department has invited a forensic expert from the United Nations (UN) to improve local capacity in investigating extrajudicial killings in connection with the government’s war on drugs.

In a statement on Sunday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said Morris Tidball-Binz, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, had been invited to hold a capacity-building mission in the country

“His work speaks for itself,” he said. “His missions and projects have had an immeasurable impact on the countries he has helped.”

“He has provided closure for families of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances,” the Justice chief said. “We are hoping for the same when he visits the Philippines.”

At least 6,117 suspected drug dealers had been killed in police operations, according to data released by the Philippine government in June 2021. Human rights groups estimate that as many as 30,000 suspects died.

The Philippine Human Rights Commission has said the Duterte government had encouraged a culture of impunity by hindering independent inquiries and failing to prosecute erring cops.

Mr. Remulla said Mr. Tidball-Binz would not be working as a special rapporteur but as an expert in the field of forensic pathology during his stay in Manila.

“He is coming in his capacity as an expert in the field to help capacitate our current doctors,” he said. “We need more capable doctors in our country to assist our law enforcement agencies in their work.”

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has said the Philippines should comply with international human rights mechanisms and cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) drug war probe.

The ICC pre-trial chamber in January granted its prosecutor’s request to reopen its probe of killings and other human rights abuses during ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s anti-illegal drug drive.

The Hague-based tribunal said it was not satisfied with Philippine efforts to probe extralegal killings.

Mr. Remulla said the UN official would help local authorities “identify the intricacies of wrongful death tragedies.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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