ICC judges on Wednesday approved an official investigation into Duterte’s bloody campaign, in which thousands of suspected drug traffickers died, many of whom were executed by police, activists say the forces say. of the order killed with the tacit support of the president.
Duterte and his police chiefs say the killings were in self-defense, while his government insists the ICC has no right to interfere in the affairs of the country.
“If there are any complaints, they should be brought to the Philippines because our courts are functioning. The ICC has no jurisdiction, ”President Harry Roque’s spokesman said at a press briefing.
“When we became a party to the Rome Statute (of the ICC), we did not cede our sovereignty and jurisdiction. “
Rights groups say thousands more have been murdered in slums – mostly users killed by mysterious gunmen who were never caught – and accuse police of being involved. The police deny this claim.
Judges in The Hague said on Wednesday that prosecutors’ documents showed the drug campaign “cannot be seen as a legitimate law enforcement operation” but rather as a systematic attack on civilians.
No entry for ICC
Presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo said Thursday that ICC investigators would not be allowed to enter the country. Lawyers for victims, however, say interviews can be conducted virtually.
The ICC was created to prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity and has jurisdiction if a member state is unable or unwilling to do so on its own.
Popular Duterte, 76, challenged the ICC to bring him to justice and publicly said he would be happy to “rot in jail” for killing people with the intention of destroying his country.
But in March 2018, he unilaterally canceled the Philippines’ membership in the ICC, a month after his prosecutor said a preliminary review on the war on drugs was underway. The ICC says it can investigate crimes committed while the Philippines was a member, until 2019.
The investigation comes at a critical time for Duterte, who is stepping down next year and cannot run for a second term.
He has confirmed he will run for vice-president, while his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, mayor, has been widely touted this year as a potential successor. .
“His best option is to support Mayor Sara’s candidacy,” political scientist Temario Rivera said.