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September 21, 2018

Philippines' Duterte to UN human rights expert: 'Go to hell'

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte salutes while passing the honour guards upon arrival during the 120th Philippine Navy anniversary in Metro Manila, Philippines May 22, 2018. /REUTERS
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte salutes while passing the honour guards upon arrival during the 120th Philippine Navy anniversary in Metro Manila, Philippines May 22, 2018. /REUTERS

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has told a UNhuman rights expert who said the country's judicial independence was under threat to 'go to hell', warning against interference in domestic affairs.

The Philippine Supreme Court voted last month to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whom Duterte had called an "enemy" for voting against controversial government proposals, citing violations in the way she was appointed.

Her dismissal is sending a chilling message to other supreme court judges and members of the judiciary, Diego García-Sayán, special UN rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said on Friday.

"Tell him not to interfere with the affairs of my country. He can go to hell," Duterte told a news conference late Saturday night, prior to leaving for an official visit to South Korea.

The outspoken Philippine leader is known for defying international pressure and his diatribes against critics.

In particular, he has railed against former US President Barack Obama and UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, Agnes Callamard, for criticising the bloody war on drugs, his signature public safety project.

Sereno, the first chief justice to be removed by her peers, had voted against several of the Duterte's proposals including the extension of martial rule in the volatile southern Philippines.

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