While in Asia, US President Donald Trump praised his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, calling him by his first name and making jokes with him. But unlike many of his predecessors who made a point of raising the issue of human rights when traveling abroad, Mr. Trump did not interfere.
Rodrigo Duterte is waging a bloody war against drug traffickers in his country that led to summary executions.
During a press conference, Donald Trump said he and Rodrigo Duterte had a “good relationship” and did not respond to journalists who asked him if he had raised the issue of human rights during his private meeting with the Filipino leader on the sidelines of a summit of South Asian leaders.
The White House later said the two leaders had discussed the fight against Daesh (the Islamic State armed group), illegal drugs and trade during their 40-minute talk.
Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that human rights had been “briefly” addressed in the context of the war on drug traffickers, but she did not say whether Mr. Trump had criticized the program of his counterpart.
“There was no mention of human rights. There is no mention of summary executions. Instead, there was a long discussion about the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs, with Mr Duterte providing a good deal of the explanation, “said Harry Roque, a spokesman for President Duterte.
Despite this, they both issued a joint statement affirming that “both parties emphasized that human rights and human dignity are essential and have agreed to continue to make human rights a priority in their national programs. “.
Human rights organizations around the world have expressed concern about the Duterte administration’s war on traffickers, which they say allows police and ordinary people to ignore normal procedures and to do justice to themselves.
At least 3,000 people, mostly drug users and resellers, have been killed as part of the program, according to government figures. Human rights organizations estimate that there were more than 9,000 deaths.