World faces ‘climate apartheid’: UN expert

The expert noted that despite global alarm bells ringing over the threat of climate change, the issue remains a “marginal concern” within the human rights community. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 June 2019

World faces ‘climate apartheid’: UN expert

GENEVE: The world faces “a climate apartheid” where the wealthy are better able to adjust to a hotter planet while the poor suffer the worst from climate change, a UN expert said Monday.
In a new report, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, warned that “climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress... in poverty reduction.”
Alston’s report, which will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council next week, cited previous research that climate change could leave 140 million across the developing world homeless by 2050.
“Perversely, while people in poverty are responsible for just a fraction of global emissions, they will bear the brunt of climate change, and have the least capacity to protect themselves,” Alston said in a statement.
“We risk a ‘climate apartheid’ scenario where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer.”
The expert noted that despite global alarm bells ringing over the threat of climate change, the issue remains a “marginal concern” within the human rights community.
He specifically criticized the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for not devoting enough attention and resources to the issue.
“As a full-blown crisis that threatens the human rights of vast numbers of people bears down, the usual piecemeal, issue-by-issue human rights methodology is woefully insufficient,” he said.
All special rapporteurs are independent experts who do not speak for the UN but report their findings to the world body.


Duterte: Hold me responsible for killings in Philippines’ drug crackdown

Updated 59 min 15 sec ago

Duterte: Hold me responsible for killings in Philippines’ drug crackdown

  • ‘If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one ... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war’

MANILA: The Philippine president has said he accepts responsibility for the thousands of killings committed during police operations in his crackdown on drugs, adding that he was even ready to go to jail.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s televised remarks Monday night were typical of his bluster — and tempered by the fact that he has pulled his country out of the International Criminal Court, where a prosecutor is considering complaints related to the leader’s bloody campaign.
The remarks were also a clear acknowledgement that Duterte could face a deluge of criminal charges. Nearly 6,000 killings of drug suspects have been reported by police since he took office in mid-2016, but rights watchdogs suspect the death toll is far larger.
“If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one ... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war,” Duterte said.
“If you get killed, it’s because I’m enraged by drugs,” said the president known for his coarse and boastful rhetoric. “If I serve my country by going to jail, gladly.”
He said, however, that drug killings that did not happen during police operations should not be blamed on him, alleging that those may have been committed by gangs.
Duterte has made a crackdown on drugs a centerpiece of his presidency. At the height of the campaign — which has often targeted petty dealers and users along with a handful of the biggest druglords — images of suspects sprawled dead and bloodied in the streets were frequently broadcast in TV news reports and splashed on the front pages of newspapers. Tens of thousands of arrests in the initial years of the crackdown worsened congestion in what were already among the world’s most overcrowded jails.
UN human rights experts and Western governments led by the United States have raised alarm over the killings, enraging Duterte, who once told former US President Barack Obama to “go to hell.”
There have been widespread suspicions that police engage in extrajudicial killings in the crackdown, allegations that they and Duterte deny. In 2018, a court convicted three police officers of murdering a 17-year-old student after witnesses and a security video disproved their claim that the suspect was shot after violently resisting, a common reason cited by police officers after drug suspects are killed.
At least two complaints for crimes against humanity and mass murder in connection with Duterte’s campaign are being examined by an ICC prosecutor, who will determine whether there is enough evidence to open a full-scale investigation.
When the complaints were made, Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the world tribunal two years ago in a move that human rights groups said was a major setback in the country’s battle against impunity. The ICC prosecutor has said the examination into the drug killings would continue despite the Philippine withdrawal.
Duterte reiterated his defiance of the court’s probe Monday by asking, when did “drugs become humanity?”
Instead, he framed the drug menace as a national security threat, as he has in the past, comparing it to the communist insurgency that the government has tried to quell for more than a half-century.
“If this is allowed to go on and on and if no decisive action is taken against them, it will endanger the security of the state,” said Duterte, a former government prosecutor.
“When you save your country from the perdition of the people like the NPAs and drugs, you are doing a sacred duty,” he said, referring to communist New People’s Army insurgents.
Police have reported at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since the start of the crackdown. Human rights groups have accused authorities of considerably under reporting the deaths.