Crime & Justice

Philippines will not allow ICC investigators to enter country

Bangkok, Sep 16 (EFE.- The Philippines announced Thursday it would not cooperate with the International Criminal Court in its investigation on the drug war waged by the country’s President Rodrigo Duterte and would deny entry to its members “because they have no jurisdiction.”

“The government will not allow any member of the [court] to collect information or evidence here in the Philippines, they will be denied entry,” Duterte’s legal advisor Salvador Panelo told DZBB radio.

The rejection comes after the court authorised the investigation Wednesday on the Philippines’ war on drugs for alleged crimes against humanity, saying “there is a reasonable basis.”

Panelo said the president, who ends his term next year, will not cooperate, since “the [court] no longer has jurisdiction over the country,” after it left the Philippines in March 2019, a year after Duterte’s request.

However, according to the Rome statute, which regulates the functioning of the court, it does have jurisdiction to judge events that occurred before that date, allowing it to investigate Duterte’s first three years as president.

The decision was welcomed by the Karapatan human rights group, the most prominent in the country, which said in a statement that the court’s decision reaffirms the vision of the victims and their families.

According to the magistrates, there are indications that crimes against humanity have been committed in the Philippines and that “the possible cases derived from said investigation appear to fall within the jurisdiction of the court.”

In the 41-page written decision of the judges, police raids with numerous fatalities are described that would form part of “a state policy,” since “there is a clear link between the murders and the government’s campaign against drugs”.

The court referred to a circular from the Philippine National Police issued on July 1, the first day of Duterte’s presidency, mentioning the intention to “neutralize” suspects in drug raids.

The Prosecutor’s Office said the word “neutralize” is a euphemism for “assassinate” and that it has records of police members who said that “when killing people during alleged anti-drug operations, they were following the instructions of the government.”

“If there are murders, I say it’s me. You can hold me responsible for any death in the war on drugs,” Duterte said in October last year during a televised address.

The 76-year-old Philippine head of state will leave the presidency on Jun. 30, as he cannot stand for reelection, but he can run for vice president. EFE


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