Duterte to defy ICC investigation into drug-war killings

World | ASSOCIATED PRESS 16 Jun 2021

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will never cooperate with a possible International Criminal Court investigation into the thousands of killings under his anti-drugs crackdown, his spokesman said yesterday, calling an international inquiry insulting to the country's justice system.

But human rights activists welcomed the possible investigation as a long-awaited step toward justice and accountability. A leading Duterte critic, jailed opposition Senator Leila de Lima, said the Philippine leader may now be harboring fears of "being dragged in chains to the Hague'' to be tried as "an enemy of mankind.''

Outgoing ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said a preliminary examination found reason to believe crimes against humanity had been committed during Duterte's crackdown on drugs between July 1, 2016, and March 16, 2019. The dates cover the period between when Duterte launched his police-enforced crackdown shortly after winning a six-year presidential term and when he withdrew the Philippines from the court.

More than 6,000 mostly poor drug suspects have been killed, according to government pronouncements, but human rights groups say the death toll is considerably higher.

Bensouda said she has sought authorization to open a formal investigation. The court's judges have 120 days to decide on her request.



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