President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines called the United Nations’ human rights chief an “idiot” on Thursday, days after the diplomat suggested that Mr. Duterte be investigated for murder.
MANILA, Philippines – Rodrigo Duterte of Philippines Calls U.N. Human Rights Chief an ‘Idiot’.
“You there in the United Nations, you do not know diplomacy,” Mr. Duterte said. “You do not know how to behave, to be an employee of the United Nations. You do not talk to me like that, you son of a bitch.”
Mr. Duterte’s denunciations were directed at Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, who called on Tuesday for the authorities in the Philippines to begin an investigation after Mr. Duterte boasted about personally gunning down criminal suspects while mayor of Davao City.
Mr. al-Hussein said in a statement, “It is unthinkable for any functioning judicial system not to launch investigative and judicial proceedings when someone has openly admitted being a killer.”
On Sunday, Mr. Duterte visited an Army base in the southern city of Zamboanga and threatened to set fire to the United Nations headquarters in New York in response to its condemnations of his bloody crackdown against people suspected of being drug dealers and users. Since he took office in June, about 2,000 people have been killed by the police, and there have been more than 3,500 unsolved killings.
“You go and file a complaint in the United Nations,” he said. “I will burn down the United Nations if you want. I will burn it down if I go to America.”
In another sign that Mr. Duterte’s “war on drugs” may have gone too far, on Thursday, three members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called on the State Department to find out whether any of the $32 million in American training assistance pledged to law enforcement agencies in the Philippines is supporting extrajudicial killings or other gross human rights abuses, which would be a violation of federal law.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, and two Democratic senators — Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Chris Coons of Delaware — said in a letter to the department that the antidrug push “appears to be a campaign of mass atrocities thinly disguised as a response to a public health emergency.”
“Rather than address the systemic problems related to the country’s drug crisis, invest in treatment programs, or approach the epidemic with a focus on the health and well-being of the Philippine people,” the letter said, “President Duterte has instead pledged to kill another 20,000 to 30,000 people, many simply because they suffer from a drug use disorder.”
Mr. Duterte, a populist who has made international headlines for his tough talk, attacked Mr. al-Hussein without mentioning him by name during a news conference on Thursday in Manila, the capital.
“You idiot, you do not tell me what to do,” he said. “Your understanding of international law is lacking. We are the ones contributing to the United Nations. You morons! You sons of whores! And I pay your salaries. Do not open your mouth there. I employ you.”
The Philippines is among the 141 members of the 193-member United Nations that have paid their 2016 dues in full. According to the General Assembly’s Committee on Contributions, which keeps a public tally, the Philippines paid its $4.11 million assessment as of March.
Philippines Should Investigate Rodrigo Duterte for Murder, U.N. Official Urges.
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines should be formally investigated by judicial authorities in his country for murder after he claimed to have personally killed people suspected of committing crimes, the top human rights official at the United Nations said on Tuesday.
The official, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, was responding to comments that Mr. Duterte made at a news conference on Friday in which he said that he had shot and killed “about three” men during his years as mayor of the southern city of Davao.
Those killings would “clearly constitute murder,” Mr. al-Hussein said in a statement on Tuesday. “It should be unthinkable for any functioning judicial system not to launch investigative and judicial proceedings when someone has openly admitted being a killer.”
Mr. Duterte, 71, has said that as mayor he roamed Davao on a motorcycle and killed people to encourage the city police to take strong action against criminals. He has previously said that the three men he shot were suspected of rape and kidnapping.
But Mr. Duterte’s actions violated the Philippine Constitution and international law, Mr. al-Hussein said, and by encouraging others to follow his example, Mr. Duterte might also have committed incitement to violence.
The Philippine president’s comments stoked further controversy over the crackdown he unleashed on drug addicts and dealers after taking office at the end of June. Since that antidrug campaign began, about 2,000 people have been killed by the police, and there have been more than 3,500 unsolved killings.
Children as young as 5 have become victims of this “appalling epidemic of extrajudicial killings,” Mr. al-Hussein said, expressing surprise that there had been no sign of prosecutions of those responsible.
Mr. Duterte drew condemnation from rights activists and religious leaders this month for pledging to restore the death penalty in the Philippines and to execute up to six criminals every day.
On Monday night, Mr. Duterte lashed out at an American aid agency, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which said it had deferred a decision on renewing assistance to the Philippines because of significant concerns about the rule of law and human rights in the country
“Shut up, shut up,” Mr. Duterte said at an awards ceremony for government workers that was attended by the new American envoy, Sung Kim. Mr. Duterte said the decision to review financial aid was “an insult.”
“Go home, I do not need your aid,” he said, adding that China would provide billions of dollars more in financial assistance.