U.N. Human Rights Chief: Philippine President Duterte Needs ‘Psychiatric Evaluation’

In December, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told human rights groups criticising his deadly anti-drug war to "go to hell"
AFP/File NOEL CELIS

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein cited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “disgraceful” use of the “foulest of language” against U.N. representatives on Friday and said Duterte “needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation.”

Zeid, whose term as human rights commissioner will end in August, clarified that he was referring to Duterte’s remarks about Agnes Callamard, a U.N. expert on extrajudicial killings who sharply criticized the number of people killed in the Philippine president’s war on drugs.

In a speech to Philippine officials on Wednesday, Duterte lashed out at international human rights agencies for criticizing him. “Human rights, human rights, son of a bitch, human rights,” he fumed.

“Don’t f**k with me, girls,” Duterte warned Callamard and International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who recently announced a preliminary investigation into Duterte for crimes against humanity. Duterte spokesmen initially claimed he was eager for his day in Bensouda’s court, but no one seriously believed that.

Duterte further insulted Callamard as “skinny” and “malnourished” and referred to Bensouda as “that black woman.”

“I don’t know if they even passed the law examination, these devils,” he said of the ICC, dismissing its justices as “dumb” and “evil.”

Zeid also noted that one of Duterte’s spokesmen invited Callamard to take a swim in the Pasig River if she visits Manila to investigate the drug war. The Pasig River is one of the most polluted rivers in the world, so Duterte’s man was essentially telling Callamard to go soak her head in toxic waste.

The U.N. was further outraged by the Philippine government accusing Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people,” of terrorism and Maoist sympathies.

Tauli-Corpuz was included on a list of 600 people declared Communist terrorists in a government petition filed last month. She denounced the accusations of terrorism against her as “baseless, malicious, and irresponsible.”

“These attacks cannot go unanswered. The U.N. Human Rights Council must take a position. The president of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation. This sort of comment really is unacceptable, unacceptable,” Zeid said at his Friday news conference.

Callamard endorsed Zeid’s statement from her Twitter account on Friday:

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano fired back that Zeid was the one behaving in an “irresponsible and disrespectful” manner with his “unmeasured outburst” questioning President Duterte’s sanity.

“The world actually needs more Dutertes,” Cayetano insisted.

He also defended the inclusion of Victoria Tauli-Corpuz on the list of 600 Communists submitted to a Manila court, insisting that everyone on the list was suspected of “membership in or association with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army [NPA] as reported over the years,” and they would have a chance to prove otherwise in court.

The Duterte administration is seeking to have the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA, formally declared terrorist organizations that are seeking to overthrow the government.

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