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Iceland hopes PHL will cooperate with UN probe on EJKs, drug war

Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to sever diplomatic ties, Iceland expressed hope the Philippines will cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council's investigation into the human rights situation in the country, including the drug war.

“Icelandic authorities sincerely hope that the Philippine authorities will engage the UN on this and the resolution,” Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs said in a press statement.

"For a small and peaceful country like Iceland, international law and the multilateral system is our sword, shield and shelter. Therefore, when Iceland became a new member of the Council last year, Iceland pledged to address human rights concerns objectively and, on their merits, in a non-politicized, non-selective manner."

Iceland Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thordarson, according to the statement, repeatedly stated that members of the Human Rights Council should lead by example and uphold the highest standards on human rights and that the government must be held accountable when the situation warrants it.

In February last year, Iceland called on the Philippines during the 37th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland to allow — without preconditions — a UN special rapporteur to look into the drug war, which has claimed thousands of lives since Duterte took office in June 2016.

The European nation had also asked the Philippines to cooperate with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and receive a mission composed of independent experts that would conduct an assessment.

Last week, Iceland initiated the resolution passed by the UNHRC to set up a preliminary investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines, including the government's war on drugs.

The resolution was adopted after 18 countries who voted in favor of the probe, 14 against (including China), with 15 abstentions (including Japan) at the 47-member forum in Geneva.

Iceland said the resolution is very modest with focus on impartiality and cooperation with the UN to get clarity on the contested facts.

“The resolution also reaffirms the determination of UN member states to tackle the world drug problem and enjoyed the support of countries facing their own serious drug problem (Mexico).”

Duterte said he is seriously considering cutting ties with Iceland but it may affect the 2,000 Filipinos working there.

He also slammed Iceland’s “special interest” in the Philippines' domestic policies.

"Iceland surprises me. It's always been a country complaining about extrajudicial killing and for a country who does not have a night, it's always like 4 o'clock in the afternoon all day long, wala silang problema," he said.

"Kung mauhaw ang tao, maraming ice, so they don't have a water problem. As far as their streets, it's safe because wala silang full night na darkness."

Duterte added: "Wait until the drug menace reaches their shore. That would be the time I will answer." —BAP, GMA News