Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took a bizarre dig at Iceland for spearheading a UN probe into his bloody war on drugs, saying they have no crime because ‘they just go about eating ice’.
The UN Human Rights Council voted 18 to 14 in favour of a resolution initiated by Iceland calling on the Filipinos to halt extrajudicial killings.
About 6,600 people, most of them accused of petty drug crimes, have been killed in the crackdown that Duterte launched as his centerpiece project when he took office in mid-2016.
‘What is the problem of Iceland? – Ice only. That is your problem. You have too much ice and there is no clear day and night there,’ Duterte said in a rambling speech to corrections department officials.
‘So you can understand why there is no crime, no policeman either, and they just go about eating ice. They don’t understand the social, economic, political problems of the Philippines.’
Non-government groups claim the death toll is much higher, including many suspects killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen who human rights groups suspect were deployed by police.
Duterte and the police have denied authorizing extrajudicial killings.
However, he has repeatedly threatened drug suspects with death in televised speeches and encouraged law enforcers to shoot suspects who fight back.
He has also warned the crackdown will be more dangerous for suspects in the final three years of his six-year term.
The resolution called for Philippine government cooperation, ‘including by facilitating country visits and preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation’.
‘The door of domestic investigation may have been shut, but the windows of international scrutiny are beginning to open up toward justice for the Filipino people,’ said Senator Leila de Lima, Duterte’s most vocal critic, who was jailed two years ago on drug charges she said were fabricated to silence her.
Amnesty International’s Nicholas Bequelin added: ‘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”.’
Duterte, a former prosecutor, has repeatedly lashed out at UN human rights experts critical of his anti-drug campaign.
His spokesman, Salvador Panelo, accused Iceland of tabling a resolution based on false information, bogus news’, and relying on narratives of Duterte’s opponents and biased media.