Lawyer for Philippines hit-man files complaint against Duterte at ICC
HONG KONG – A Philippines lawyer filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday against President Rodrigo Duterte and senior officials, accusing them of mass murder in a nationwide anti-drugs crackdown.
Attorney Jude Sabio said in the 77-page complaint that Duterte “repeatedly, unchangingly and continuously” committed crimes against humanity and that under him, killing drug suspects and other criminals has become “best practice”.
Sabio is the lawyer for Edgar Matobato, a man who has testified in the Philippines Senate that he was part of a hit squad that operated on Duterte’s orders.
It is the first publicly known communication to the ICC against Duterte and is based on the testimony of Matobato and retired policeman Arturo Lascanas, statements from rights groups and media reports, including a Reuters series on the killings.
The complaint alleged that Duterte and at least 11 senior government officials were liable for murder and called for an investigation, arrest warrants and a trial.
Lawmakers found no proof of Matobato’s Senate testimony, which the president’s aides have dismissed as fabrication.
Almost 9 000 people have been killed since Duterte took office last summer. Police claim a third of those killings were in self-defence during legitimate police operations. Rights groups say many of the remaining two-thirds were committed by vigilantes cooperating with the police or by police disguised as vigilantes. Police deny this.
Duterte has persistently denied he is involved with any death squad and said that his orders to kill drug suspects come with the caveat that police should operate within the bounds of the law.
Since it was set up in July 2002, the ICC has received over 12 0000 complaints or communications. Nine of these cases have gone to trial and six verdicts have been delivered.
The ICC has no powers of enforcement, and any non-compliance has to be referred to the United Nations or the court’s own oversight and legislative body, the Assembly of States Parties.
Duterte has said he welcomed the prospect of the ICC putting him on trial. He said last month he would not be intimidated and his campaign against drugs would be unrelenting and “brutal”. (Reuters)