HRW Slams Trump Invitation for Duterte

HRW Slams Trump Invitation for DuterteHRW Slams Trump Invitation for Duterte

A US-based human rights group said US President Donald Trump should seek accountability and not offer to roll out the White House red carpet for Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte, who the group accuses of being a mass murder “mastermind” amid the thousands of deaths in his anti-drug crackdown.

Human Rights Watch and other critics reacted with alarm and outrage Monday at Trump’s invitation for Duterte to visit the White House in a telephone call where “the leader of the free world” also affirmed America’s treaty alliance and friendship with the Philippines and its new president, who has had an antagonistic stance toward US security policies, AP reported.

A leftwing Philippine group, Bayan, urged Duterte to reject Trump’s invitation, saying the visit would not change what it said was America’s lopsided relations with its former colony.

“It may provide an interesting photo-op but nothing more,” said Renato Reyes, Bayan’s secretary-general.

The US and other countries close to the Philippines “have an obligation to urge accountability for the victims of Duterte’s abusive drug war, rather than offer to roll out the red carpet for official state visits with its mastermind”, said Phelim Kine, HRW’s deputy director for Asia.

Kine said separately in an emailed response to questions from AP that Trump may be undertaking action inimical to human rights by adopting an overly friendly overture to Duterte, who is facing a complaint for alleged mass murder before the International Criminal Court.

Duterte has said in the past that his administration did not have a policy backing extrajudicial killings, although he has repeatedly threatened drug suspects with death and unusual violence in his nationally televised speeches.

Duterte’s spokesman, Ernie Abella, did not immediately reply to an AP request for reaction to HRW’s statement.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said Duterte has not yet responded to Trump’s offer, adding that an official US invitation would kick off diplomatic arrangements for Duterte’s possible US trip.

“If Duterte accepts, the trip may happen soon because of the urgent topic,” department spokesman Robespierre Bolivar told reporters.

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