UN council adopts resolution calling for probe into PH human rights situation

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A United Nations council has adopted a resolution calling for a probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines Thursday.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 11) — A United Nations council on Thursday adopted a resolution calling for a probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines, a move that rights advocates welcomed as a step toward accountability in the face of what they call a "murderous" drug war.

The resolution approved by 18 countries in the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, requests UN High Commisioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet "to prepare a comprehensive written report" on the Philippines.

Fourteen other nations, including the Philippines and China, voted against. The remaining 15 abstained.

Philippine top diplomat Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr. said the resolution will have no effect.

"Such resolutions especially those passed by a tiny minority can and will be ignored. No consequences," Locsin said on Twitter.

Locsin also warned that the "initiative to insult the Philippines with the assumption without proof that it commits gross abuses" will have "far reaching consequences".

Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo said countries who voted in favor of the resolution based their call on "false narratives." The number of abstentions and disagreements reflect the lack of support for the probe, he added.

"These countries did not believe in that Iceland resolution, so effectively it is a victory for the Philippines in that sense," Panelo told CNN Philippines Thursday.

Government data show at least 6,600 people have been killed in anti-illegal drug operations since Duterte took office in 2016, The country's independent Commission on Human Rights as well as international human rights groups have pegged the deaths at more than 27,000.

U.N. Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said Thursday's resolution "is an opportunity for all stakeholders, including the Government to assess the current state of human rights in the country and in particular to get clarity around the contested facts, figures and circumstances.”

Amnesty International, which recently released a report on the continuing drug war and the lack of accountability and justice in the widespread killings, sees the vote as a sign of hope.

“This vote provides hope for thousands of bereaved families in the Philippines, and countless more Filipinos bravely challenging the Duterte administration’s murderous ‘war on drugs," Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia said in a statement. "It’s a crucial step towards justice and accountability,"

Laila Matar, deputy Geneva director at Human Rights Watch said the resolution is a modest but vital measure that "signals the start of accountability for thousands of 'drug war'-related killings and other abuses." She said "the challenge now is to ensure that the process moves quickly to compel the Philippine government to stop the killings and prosecute those responsible."

Iceland had drafted the resolution that was co-sponsored by 27 other member-states of the UN.

In its two-page draft resolution, Iceland called on the Philippines to cooperate with the UNHRC's possible probe, "including facilitating country visits and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation."

But Panelo clarified the call is misplaced.

"In the first place, we do not retaliate, neither do we intimidate," Panelo said.

Iceland's resolution also "urges the government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with international norms and standards including those on due process and the rule of law."