France reacts to Duterte assertion on presumption of innocence

Ace Morandante, AFP | Handout photo showing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shaking hands on on August 28, 2017 with the parents of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, who was allegedly killed by police officers during an anti-drug raid.

The French Embassy said Wednesday that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was wrong when he said laws in France presume a person guilty until proven innocent.


"We have to point out that, as in the Philippines, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is at the core of the French judicial system," an embassy statement said.

"France strongly believes in the importance of the rule of law, due process and respect for human rights in all countries, including the Philippines," it added.

On Monday, Duterte ranted against U.N. rights expert Agnes Callamard, whose tweets last week urged the Philippines to make the death of a 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos the last in the cruel war on drugs.

In his invective-laden reply to a reporter's question, Duterte said Callamard should not to lecture him and that in her own country, France, they can detain a person almost indefinitely "and the French law says you are guilty, and you have to prove your innocence."

Callamard, a vocal critic of the widespread drug killings, in tweets said delos Santos was the "latest symbol of a massive, government-led, human rights crisis," citing an autopsy report showing he was shot at least twice in the head, apparently at close range.

Murder complaints were filed Friday against Philippine police officers in connection with the Aug. 16 shooting death of the teenager in a Manila suburb.

The student, who wanted to become a police officer, was one of more than 80 drug and crime suspects killed in purported gunbattles with police over three days this month in the bloodiest period of Duterte's anti-drug campaign.

The killings have sparked alarm and investigations by the Senate and others.

Anger and protests have focused on the killing of delos Santos, who police say was a drug dealer who opened fire with a pistol during a raid. His family, however, says he was mercilessly killed by police as he was pleading for his life and telling the officers he had an exam in school the next day.


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