President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte caught the attention of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday. The New York-based non-government organization expressed dismay on Duterte’s remarks on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) activists whom he accused of “obstructing justice”.
The commander-in-chief publicly instructed the police to shoot CHR personnel if they interfere with the operations of the law enforcement agency.
“If they are obstructing justice, you shoot them.” he said.
Human rights watchdog rapidly decried Duterte’s statment, saying he should immediately withdraw it or be investigated for possibly instigating or inciting violence against Philippine human right advocates.
“Duterte is on notice that his death threats against human rights advocates could pave the way for prosecution for crimes against humanity,” the Deputy Director of HRW Asia, Phelim Kine said.
In the previous tirades of the President towards the CHR, he uttered that he would not allow his men to be investigated under the resolution of the commission and warned that the office would ‘better be abolished’.
The HRW also supported the statement of CHR Chairman Chito Gacson that if the killings would be persistent to its objectives of ‘unrelenting’ and ‘unprecedented’ drug war as the President pronounced in his State of the Nation Address, the government might be investigated by the International Criminal Court.
HRW chairman added, “Duterte is on notice that his death threats against human rights advocates could pave the way for prosecution for crimes against humanity.”
Earlier this year, the CHR has urged the administration to submit to the recommendations of the United Nations (UN), which the Philippines is a member.
The organization emphasized that the efforts to seek accountability for drug-war deaths have gone nowhere.
“President Duterte’s threats against human rights activists is like painting a target on the backs of courageous people working to protect the rights and upholding the dignity of all Filipinos,” Kine stressed.
He added, “Duterte should retract his reprehensible remarks immediately before there is more blood on his hands.”