Philippine president Duterte : ‘Won’t cooperate in probe over anti-drugs deaths’. Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), said on Monday that initial investigations found a reason to believe that ‘humanitarian offenses’ were committed during the drug attack on Rodrigo Duterte between July 2016 and March 2019.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will not co-operate with a possible International Criminal Court investigation into the thousands of murders under his anti-drug campaign, his spokesman said on Tuesday, calling for an international investigation that undermines the country’s justice system.
But human rights activists have welcomed the possible investigation as a long-awaited move to justice and accountability. Duterte’s leading critic, arrested Sen. Leila de Lima, said the Philippine leader may now fear he will be “chained to The Hague” in order to be tried “as an enemy of humanity.”
ICC outgoing prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Monday that the initial investigation found reason to believe that crimes committed against the people were committed during Duterte’s drug attack between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019.
These days include the mid-period when Duterte launched his police coercion campaign just after winning a six-year term as president and withdrawing from the Philippines from court. Critics say at the time he was trying to avoid commenting.
More than 6,000 suspected drug addicts have been killed, according to government announcements, but human rights groups say the death toll is too high and should include the unsolved massacre of motorcyclists who may have been sent by the police.
Duterte has denied any wrongdoing in connection with drug trafficking, although he has publicly threatened to kill the suspects and has ordered police to shoot suspects in protest.
Bensouda said he wanted authorization to open a formal investigation. Judges in court have 120 days to decide his case.
Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque condemned Bensouda’s actions as “legally flawed,” saying the ICC, as an international court that could make a final decision, could only intervene if state lawmakers and prosecutors failed to work and investigate domestic crime. Roque cited a number of pending murder cases and other cases involving the government’s crackdown on illegal drugs in the Philippine courts.
“It is an insult to all Filipinos that immigrants like Bensouda and other Filipinos say that our legal system in the Philippines is not working and does not do justice,” Roque told a news conference. “How can you say that the legal system in the Philippines is not working.”
Roque said Duterte’s political “enemies” and his bosses had filed complaints with the ICC, adding that “we will never cooperate because we are no longer a member.”
Bensouda, however, emphasized that the court had jurisdiction over the alleged crimes while the Philippines was a member of the judiciary.
Rights activists have welcomed Bensouda’s conclusion. Amnesty International said its announcement was “a highly anticipated step in ending the assassination of President Duterte and his superiors.”