UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The United Nations' human rights chief called on authorities in the Philippines to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte after he bragged he committed murder.
Since his inauguration as president in June, Duterte has demonstrated an enthusiasm for controversial comments and insults of nations and leaders. A major policy of his administration is the eradication of illegal drugs and drug trafficking in his country, a campaign which the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said has led to the extrajudicial deaths of more than 6,000 people at the hands of police and vigilante groups. Duterte told members of a business symposium in the Philippines last week that, as mayor of Davao City, he patrolled the streets on a motorcycle and killed people. In an interview Friday with the BBC, Duterte said he personally killed "about three" people during his mayoral term, the United Nations News Center reported Tuesday.
"The killings committed by [Duterte] by his own admission, at a time when he was a mayor, clearly constitute murder," said the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. "It should be unthinkable for any functioning judicial system not to launch investigative and judicial proceedings when someone has openly admitted being a killer. The killings described by President Duterte also violate international law, including the right to life, freedom from violence and force, due process and fair trial, equal protection before the law, and innocence until proven guilty."
Zeid added that if Duterte, as a government official, encouraged others to follow his example, he may also have committed incitement to violence. He called Duterte's dead-or-alive approach to solving the Philippines' drug problems as "a direct violation of all democratic safeguards that have been established to uphold justice and the rule of law."
Zeid also offered support to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, who cancelled a visit to the Philippines to discuss the extrajudicial killings after the Philippine government imposed conditions on her visit. Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the invitation still stood but added that the government would be inclined to withdraw it if she insisted on her own rules for an investigation.