Philippines rejects call for UN rights council probe

UN rights experts asked the UN Human Rights Council on Friday to look into the “staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings.” (AFP)
Updated 08 June 2019

Philippines rejects call for UN rights council probe

  • The president has overseen a narcotics crackdown in which police have killed more than 5,300 suspected drug dealers and users
  • Rights groups say the actual number of dead is at least three times higher

MANILA: The Philippines on Saturday rejected a call for an independent United Nations probe into Manila’s alleged human rights violations, describing it as interference in the affairs of the Asian nation.
UN rights experts asked the UN Human Rights Council on Friday to look into the “staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings in the context of the so-called war on drugs, as well as killings of human rights defenders.”
President Rodrigo Duterte has overseen a narcotics crackdown in which police have killed more than 5,300 suspected drug dealers and users since he was elected three years ago.
Rights groups say the actual number of dead is at least three times higher.
“The latest call by 11 special rapporteurs of the United Nations for an international probe of the Philippines not only is intellectually challenged but an outrageous interference on Philippine sovereignty,” Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
He accused the UN experts of “peddling a biased and absolutely false recital of facts, adulterated with malicious imputations against the constituted authorities.”
Panelo also said: “Those who have spoken against the campaign on illegal drugs and human rights record of this president have been overwhelmingly rejected by the Filipino electorate.”
Last month’s midterm polls, held halfway into Duterte’s six-year term, saw his allies take control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The 11 UN experts, who are independent and do not speak for the United Nations, include the special rapporteur on summary or extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard.
Callamard earned Duterte’s ire when she called for a stop to the drug war killings in 2016.
Duterte’s drug war is his signature policy initiative and he defends it fiercely, especially from international critics and institutions which he says do not care about the Philippines.
Critics have alleged the crackdown amounts to a war on the poor that feeds an undercurrent of impunity and lawlessness in the country.


Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

Visitors try out food at 'Bengaluru Aaharotsava', a 3-day vegetarian food festival, in Bangalore on October 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 October 2019

Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

  • This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party

NEW DELHI: India’s poor rating in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) has come in for sharp criticism, with the opposition calling it a “colossal failure of government policy.”
The GHI showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.
The index is designed to measure and track hunger at a global, regional, and national level. The report, which was released on Wednesday, was a joint effort between Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organization Welt Hunger Hilfe.
“This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party.
Thomas Isaac, finance minister in the southern state of Kerala, said: “The slide started with PM (Narendra) Modi’s ascension. In 2014 India was ranked 55. In 2017 it slipped to 100 and now to the levels of Niger and Sierra Leone. The majority of the world’s hungry now resides in India.”
The GHI score is based on four indicators — undernourishment; child wasting (children below five who have a low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting, (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and child mortality, the mortality rate of children under the age of five.
“India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8 percent, the highest for any country,” the report said. It added that, with a score of 30.3, India suffered from a level of hunger that was serious.

BACKGROUND

The Global Hunger Index showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.

International NGO Save the Children  said the government needed to focus on wasting and stunting. Other low- and middle-income countries in the world which are faring better have actually scored better than India in those two areas, it added.
“There are nearly 1.8 million children in the country who are wasting and for that we will need comprehensive interventions, including the provision of therapeutic foods for such children to be managed at a community level,” it told Arab News.
The NGO warned of serious social consequences, with wasting leading to impaired cognitive ability and poor learning outcomes. “Furthermore, for underweight and stunted girls, it invokes a vicious cycle whereby initial malnutrition with early child-bearing gets translated into poor reproductive health outcomes.”
Arab News contacted the Child and Family Welfare Ministry for comment but did not get a response.
Nepal ranks 73 in the index, Sri Lanka is placed at 66, Bangladesh is in 88th place, Myanmar is at the 69th spot and Pakistan ranks 94.
The GHI said these countries were also in the serious hunger category, but that their citizens fared better than India’s.