Philippines’ Duterte offers to host ‘world summit’ on human rights

The firebrand leader, who spoke in a news conference late on Thursday while in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, said the summit should focus on human rights violations not just in the Philippines but globally. (AP)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Philippines’ Duterte offers to host ‘world summit’ on human rights

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is facing international criticism for his bloody war on drugs, said his country was willing to host a “world summit” to tackle how nations can protect human rights.
The firebrand leader, who spoke in a news conference late on Thursday while in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, said the summit should focus on human rights violations not just in the Philippines but globally.
Some western countries and human rights groups have strongly criticized Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign that has killed more than 3,900 suspected drug users and peddlers, in what the police called self-defense after armed suspects resisted arrest.
Critics dispute that and say executions are taking place with zero accountability, allegations the police reject.
“Let’s have a summit of how we can protect human rights for all human race,” Duterte said shortly after meeting with the Filipino community in Vietnam, where he also renewed his attacks against United Nations human rights expert Agnes Callamard.
“What makes the death of people in the Philippines more important than the rest of the children in the world that were massacred and killed,” he asked.
He said all victims of human rights violations are welcome to attend the summit and air their grievances.
Duterte reiterated his threat to slap Callamard if she investigates him for the rising death toll in his war on drugs and would ask her why she has made no comments on the victims of bombings and violence in the Middle East.
“What have you been doing all the time? Why are you so fascinated with drugs?” Duterte said.
Duterte also threatened to ban two American lawmakers from coming to Manila after they criticized US President Donald Trump for inviting him to visit the United States.
“If you do not like me, I do not like you. We’re even,” he said without naming the lawmakers. Democratic Rep. James McGovern and Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren had called on Trump to highlight the human rights situation in the Philippines in his upcoming visit to Manila.
“I will tell them, you are too presumptuous. What made you think that I am even planning or thinking about visiting your country?”


10 killed in Nicaragua protests against pension reform plan

Updated 13 min 26 sec ago
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10 killed in Nicaragua protests against pension reform plan

  • Students from Polytechnic University have been holed up on their campus since Thursday evading police.
  • Murillo compared the protesters to "vampires demanding blood to feed their political agenda."
MANAGUA: Violent protests against a proposed change to Nicaragua's pension system have left at least 10 people dead over two days, the government said Friday.
In the biggest protests in President Daniel Ortega's 11 years in office in this poor Central American country, people are angry over the plan because workers and employers would have to chip in more toward the retirement system.
The government is willing to hold a dialogue and Ortega will issue a formal call on Saturday, Vice President Rosario Murillo said, adding: "At least 10 compatriots have died."
Demonstrations rocked the capital Managua and nearby cities for a third day.
The new law, besides increasing employer and employee contributions, would cut the overall pension amount by five percent.
"We are against these reforms, which means we're against this government taking from the pockets of Nicaraguans," said Juan Bautista.
He said riot police brutally attacked demonstrators like him because "the dictator does not like people to protest."
A woman nearby shouted: "The people are tired of this repression!"
Students from Polytechnic University have been holed up on their campus since Thursday evading police. Other students took refuge in nearby buildings or residences.
In Las Colinas, south of the capital, demonstrators raised small barricades and with their hands raised asked the riot police not to target them.
Four independent television outlets were taken off the air after they broadcast the demonstrations on Thursday, and two were still blocked on Friday.
Murillo compared the protesters to "vampires demanding blood to feed their political agenda."
The opposition said more than 20 people were wounded while the writers group Pen Nicaragua said that at least 11 journalists were attacked while covering the demonstrations.
"We call on the Nicaraguan authorities to act to prevent further attacks on demonstrators and on the media," said Liz Throssell, spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights."
She urged the government to let people "exercise their right to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly and association," and urged protesters to demonstrate "peacefully."
She also said demonstrators were attacked by government supporters in the city of Masaya.
Miguel Mora, director of the private television channel 100% Noticias -- which the government blocked -- accused Ortega of applying the same censorship he imposed in the 1980s during the Sandinista Revolution.
When Ortega returned to power in 2007 he promised to "never censor a media outlet -- and today he is doing just that," Mora told Channel 14.