MANILA, Philippines – Human rights activists have urged Israeli President Reuven Rivlin not to meet a "mass murderer" like President Rodrigo Duterte when the Philippine leader visits Israel in early September.
In an appeal sent to Israel’s Office of the President, lawyer Eitay Mack said Duterte poses a threat “not just to Philippine citizens but also to the peace of the whole world.”
Mack, who sent the appeal on behalf of at least 24 other Israeli human rights activists, said it would be “most inappropriate for a mass murderer” to meet the Israeli President.
“In view of the grave crimes for which Mr Duterte is responsible, we believe that his visit to the Israeli Presidential Residence will bring President Rivlin, and the very institution of the Israeli presidency, into disrepute,” he wrote.
“Therefore, this visit must not be carried out, even if its purpose is to promote weapons sales and UN votes,” Mack added.
Duterte has been strongly criticized by groups at home and abroad for his bloody campaign against illegal drugs. (READ: Climate of fear: Justice remains elusive two years into Duterte’s drug war)
“There is no doubt that when the international community stands idly as a leader calls for massacres and in fact commits massacres, against specific population groups, it legitimizes other murderous leaders,” Mack said in their appeal.
Duterte faces two complaints before the International Crime Court (ICC) – a mass murder complaint filed by lawyer Jude Sabio which is under preliminary examination, and another by families of drug war victims filed just this week. In March, Duterte ordered the Philippines' withdrawal from the ICC.
At least 4,540 drug suspects have been shot dead in anti-drug operations, based on government figures, while human rights groups estimate the number to reach at least 20,000, including those killed by vigilantes. (READ: The Impunity Series)
Duterte has been also criticized for his threats and insults against people and groups calling for accountability in the deaths related to his campaign against illegal drugs.
Duterte’s historic state visit to Israel from September 2 to 5 will mark the first visit of a Philippine president to the country since the two countries established ties in 1957. – Rappler.com