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Congress’ HR co-chairs urge Trump to raise US concern over EJKs with Duterte

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Congress’ HR co-chairs urge Trump to raise US concern over EJKs with Duterte

/ 12:43 AM November 09, 2017

 

Reps. Randy Hultgren and James P. McGovern, Human Rights Commission co-chairs.

WASHINGTON, DC – The co-chairs of the US Congress’ human rights body have made public a letter to President Donald J. Trump urging him to bring up the issue of human rights during his upcoming meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

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Congressmen Randy Hultgren and James P. McGovern, co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission urged Trump to express the US’ “profound concern” over reported extrajudicial killings associated with the Philippine government’s “war on drugs.”

The letter notes that a Commission hearing earlier this year included strong evidence that police have killed 7,000 alleged drug dealers and users without charges or trial since the Philippine government launched its campaign against illicit drugs.

The Co-Chairs request that just as Trump will reaffirm to Duterte the United States’ unwavering commitment to the Philippines, he should also reaffirm the United States’ commitments to fundamental human rights, including due process and the rule of law.

Letter applauded

A Filipino American human rights advocacy group gladly welcomed the co-chair’s letter to Trump.

In a statement of support, the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance (FAHRA–USA) “deeply appreciates and commends the Lantos Human Rights Commission letter to President Donald Trump, on his four-day visit to the Philippines. Their letter of concern highlights the terrible state of impunity, violations of human rights and rampant extra-judicial killings that reached 14,923 as of this date.”

Members of the Filipino American Human Right Alliance (FAHRA) after a forum in Daly City on China’s Invasion, Extrajudicial Killings and Martial Law in the Philippines in June this year. INQUIRER/Jun Nucum

FAHRA reiterates that it believes that the United States must remain a champion of human rights, due process and the rule of law. The group states that it “believes the Lantos Commission letter upholds the basic principles of the United Nations Declaration for Human Rights and the United States adherence to democratic principles. If Trump will continue to go against these universal principles and will support a budding dictator like PRRD, it is going against these time-honored traditions.”

It is the obligation of the United States, the group states, to advocate for and defend those human rights as set forth in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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The group also seconds the Lantos Commission statement recognizing the strategic importance of maintaining United States’ strong partnership with the Philippines, especially amid rising tensions in the region over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and Chinese territorial sovereignty issues involving the South China Sea.

The co-chairmen of the Lantos Human Rights Commission cited the Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2016 by the Department of State indicating that there has been a significant increase in the number of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines and that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights referred to the recent increase as an “appalling epidemic.”

The full text of the Hultgren and McGovern letter is below.

Dear President Trump:

During your upcoming visit to the Philippines for meetings with regional leaders at the ASEAN summit in Manila, including Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, we urge you to impress upon President Duterte the United States’ profound concern over reported extra-judicial killings associated with the Philippine government’s “war on drugs.”

We certainly recognize the strategic importance of maintaining our strong partnership with the Philippines, especially amid rising tensions in the region over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and Chinese territorial sovereignty issues involving the South China Sea.  At the same time, we believe the United States must remain a champion of human rights, due process, and the rule of law.

According to the Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2016 by the Department of State, there has been a significant increase in the number of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights referred to the recent increase as an “appalling epidemic.”  At a Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing earlier this year, we were distressed to learn that police have killed 7,000 alleged drug dealers and users without charges or trial since the Philippine government launched its campaign against illicit drugs.

Human rights are fundamental.  Every government should afford their citizens the protection and due process of the law.  The Philippines is a valuable ally of the United States and major recipient of U.S. aid.  For these reasons, it is paramount that human rights violations not be the consequences of the Philippines’ “war on drugs.”  It is the obligation of the United States to advocate for and defend those human rights as set forth in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, we ask that you raise these concerns in your talks with President Duterte even as you reaffirm the United States’ unwavering commitment to and friendship with the Philippines.

Sincerely,

Randy Hultgren                                                          James P. McGovern
Member of Congress                                                  Member of Congress
Co-Chairman, TLHRC                                               Co-Chairman, TLHRC

115th Congress

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TAGS: Duterte war on drugs, extrajudicial killings, Human rights letter to Trump, human rights Philippines, President Donald J. Trump, President Rodrigo Duterte, Rep. James P. McGovern, Rep. Randy Hultgren, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Trump visit to Philippines, US Congress
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