Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he raised the issue of human rights with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, whose crackdown on illicit drug trafficking has led to the deaths of thousands of people.
Trudeau told reporters in Manila Tuesday he 'impressed upon' Duterte 'the need for respect for the rule of law' as well as human rights, on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in the Philippine capital. 'The president was receptive to my comments and it was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange,' Trudeau said.
Duterte's anti-drug crackdown, which he launched shortly after taking office last year, has turned both brutal and bloody. Human Rights Watch says that since mid-2016 security forces and "unidentified gunmen" have killed at least 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers, with 3,116 of the killings carried out by police. By comparison, the death toll in a year under Duterte is higher than the number killed while dictator Ferdinand Marcos was in power between 1972 and 1981.
U.S. President Donald Trump virtually ignored discussion of Duterte's human rights record during their one-on-one talks Monday.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said human rights "briefly came up in the context of the Philippines' fight against illegal drugs.' But Duterte spokesman Harry Roque disputed that account, saying, "There was no mention of human rights. There was no mention of extralegal killings.'
Before Trump was elected, Duterte attacked then-president Barack Obama as a "son of a whore" last year after the Obama administration criticized Duterte's human rights record.
Ahead of Monday's meeting with Trump, Duterte said if the new U.S. leader brought up human rights, he would tell him to "lay off."