'Go to hell,' Duterte tells expert in judge row

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 4 Jun 2018

President Rodrigo Duterte told a United Nations rights expert to "go to hell" yesterday over criticism of the Philippine leader for threatening the top judge.

Duterte's latest diatribe came after Diego Garcia-Sayan, the UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said the president's statements against former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno were a vicious attack on the judiciary.

Sereno's colleagues voted to remove her from office last month, soon after Duterte called her his enemy and demanded her swift ouster.

"Tell Garcia-Sayan not to interfere with the affairs of my country. He can go to hell," Duterte told reporters in Manila, insisting he had nothing to do with Sereno's dismissal.

"He is not a special person and I do not recognize his rapporteur title."

Duterte, 73, has lashed out in the past. Several of his opponents have since been ousted, punished or threatened.

Sereno was one of the few remaining high-profile critics of the drug crackdown at the time of her ouster.

Garcia-Sayan said that Duterte's public threats against Sereno appeared to have had a chilling effect on her colleagues in the judiciary.

"The use of such derogatory language sends a clear message to all judges of the Philippines: in the so-called 'war on drugs,' you're either with me or against me," Garcia-Sayan said.

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