McCain criticizes Trump’s failure to mention human rights to Duterte

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, criticized President Trump’s failure to bring up the issue of human rights during his joint statement with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday.

“And human rights obviously not a priority in @POTUS’s meeting with Duterte – again, sad,” the senator tweeted in response to an initial tweet from November 11 also calling out Mr. Trump’s apparent failure to mention human rights violations during the Vietnam leg of his Asia trip.

Duterte’s aggressive crackdown on drug traffickers and users in the Philippines has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial murders.

During the two leaders’ joint statement, Mr. Trump repeatedly praised Duterte and emphasized the importance of trade between the two nations, but did not explicitly highlight human rights abuses, as many of his predecessors have done while traveling abroad.

During remarks to reporters, Mr. Trump also said he and Duterte have “a great relationship” but avoided questions regarding human rights issues.

A statement from the White House released Monday regarding the joint remarks said that Mr. Trump and Duterte “underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in their national programs to promote the welfare of all sectors, including the most vulnerable groups.”

However, the White House’s version of events contradicts that of the Philippines’ statement, which said that “there was no mention of human rights. There was no mention of extralegal killings. There was only a rather lengthy discussion of the Philippine war on drugs with President Duterte doing most of the explaining,” according to Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque. 

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