Crime & Justice

‘I’m the one’: Duterte takes responsibility for ‘drug war’ killings

Manila, Oct 20 (efe-epa).- Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has said he has “no problem” in being held accountable for the murders in his bloody war on drugs, but denied they are crimes against humanity, as claimed by human rights groups.

“If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one … you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war,” Duterte said in a televised speech Monday night.

Police admit to having killed some 6,000 suspects in raids, although they claim all had resisted arrest. Humanitarian organizations raise that figure to some 27,000 murders, many of them committed by undercover agents working for criminal groups.

“If you get killed it’s because I’m enraged by drugs,” said the president.

“If that’s what I’m saying, bring me to court to be imprisoned. Fine, I have no problem. If I serve my country by going to jail, gladly,” added Duterte.

In February 2018, prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened a preliminary examination into whether crimes against humanity had been committed in the anti-drugs campaign, which could become a formal probe in the next few months.

A month after the preliminary investigation was launched, Duterte ordered the withdrawal of the Philippines from the ICC, which continues with the investigations as the complaints were made before the country’s exit was formalized.

In the past, Duterte has encouraged law enforcement officers to kill drug addicts and drug traffickers and has guaranteed them impunity for doing so, words that would support evidence of crimes against humanity, according to various human rights organizations that have promoted complaints before the ICC and national courts.

Civil society groups and human rights defenders in the Philippines trusted that the UN Human Rights Council, meeting earlier this month in Geneva, would pass a resolution to open an independent international investigation into rights violations in the Philippines, such as extrajudicial executions in the war on drugs and murder of activists and social leaders.

However, the agency simply gave the green light to a resolution that provided “technical support” to the Philippine government to expedite investigations into human rights violations in the country, disappointing broad sectors of society in the Southeast Asian country.

“With this government’s track record of brazen disregard for basic human rights and civil liberties, with its officials’ relentless efforts to vilify human rights defenders and active campaign to silence critics, we have serious reservations that the supposed technical assistance and capacity-building programs will stop the human rights violations,” said EcuVoice, a coalition of rights organizations.

“We even fear that the government may abuse such programs and use these as smokescreen to conceal their apathy and disregard toward the victims or to commit reprisals against activists and human rights defenders engaging in the process,” it added.

Amnesty International said that the HRC failed to “advance justice for bereaved families across the Philippines who had placed their hopes in the international community.” EFE-EPA


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