The UN human rights chief has asked Philippine authorities to launch a murder investigation after the president, Rodrigo Duterte, claimed to have killed people in the past, and to examine the “appalling epidemic of extrajudicial killings” committed during his anti-drug crackdown.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said the country’s judicial authorities “must demonstrate their commitment to upholding the rule of law and their independence from the executive” by investigating the president. He said it was “unthinkable for any functioning judicial system not to launch investigative and judicial proceedings when someone has openly admitted being a killer”.

Since taking office in June, Duterte has overseen a crackdown on the illegal drug trade that has left more than 6,000 people dead. Government officials have defended police actions during the crackdown.

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Thumbnail: Flickr CC Prachatai