World

UN rights chief: Investigate Duterte murder claims

GENEVA: The UN human rights chief has urged the Philippines to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte for murder after he boasted that he had personally killed suspected criminals in the past.

Last week, Mr Duterte said in a speech that when he was the mayor of the southern city of Davao, where he served three terms between 1988 and this year, he personally killed people to set an example for the police.

He had made the comments as he discussed his campaign to eradicate illegal drugs, which has seen police and unknown assailants kill thousands of people since he became president on June 30.

"The Philippines judicial authorities must demonstrate their commitment to upholding the rule of law and their independence from the executive by launching a murder investigation," UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement on Tuesday.

MURDER

"The killings committed by Mr Duterte, by his own admission, at a time when he was a mayor, clearly constitute murder."

Mr Duterte said that as a newly-elected mayor of Davao, he and several local policemen ambushed a group of suspected kidnappers shortly after the gang collected ransom from the parents of a hostage.

"Maybe my bullets killed them, maybe not, but after the (firefight) they were all dead," he said.

He told the BBC on Dec 16 that he had personally killed "about three people" during his term as mayor. But Philippines Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre insisted that Mr Duterte had not violated any law.

"If the suspect fought back, he must have been forced to kill him," Mr Aguirre said last week. - AFP

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