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Fresh ICC complaint filed vs. Duterte over drug war deaths

Activists and families of eight victims of the government's war on drugs on Tuesday filed a complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity.

The 50-page complaint, which was submitted to the ICC online, calls for Duterte's indictment for what it describes as thousands of extrajudicial killings (EJKs), which include "brazen" executions by police acting with impunity.

The complainants — six relatives of eight victims and religious group Rise Up for Life and for Rights — are represented by the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) in filing the complaint.

The ICC petition, formally referred to as a communication, follows a similar complaint filed in April 2017 by a Filipino lawyer, into which the ICC in February started a preliminary examination.

Unlike previous complaint, the second complaint was filed by actual relatives of victims, said human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares.

"Duterte is personally liable for ordering state police to undertake mass killings," Colmenares told reporters, moments after he said the complaint had been sent to the ICC.


Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the latest ICC petition was "doomed" and "would not prosper" because the Philippines had pulled out of the Rome Statute.

The ICC prosecutor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment and could not be reached out of normal office hours.

Duterte unilaterally withdrew from the ICC's founding treaty in March, saying the court had not followed due process and presumption of his innocence, in actions that were compounded by "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks" by United Nations officials.

The Supreme Court was due to hear oral arguments later on Tuesday in a separate complaint by some opposition lawmakers challenging the legality of Duterte's withdrawal, which was done without Senate approval. The government's lawyer will argue that is not required.

Backed by evidence

Colmenares said their complaint is backed with pages of evidence, including the actual memorandum circular on the Philippine National Police's Oplan Double Barrel.

NUPL lawyer Kristina Conti alleged that the memorandum circular contains an "implied" directive for the police to kill drug suspects.

"It's implied na directive," Conti said. "Talagang PNP directive niya. Sabi niya, ganito niyo titirahin ang drug war. Merong point na how do you pursue this. 'Pursue the neutralization of illegal drug personalities'."

Crimes against humanity is defined in the Rome Statute of the ICC as acts committed "as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population."

"Murder ang kaso, pero sa konteksto na ito ay crime against humanity. Widespread, systematic, etc. At ang may kasalanan dito ay ibang tao, at hindi lang mismo ang bumaril na tao," Conti said.

In their formal communication to the ICC, NUPL said the complainants believe Duterte is "guilty of crimes against humanity, specifically murder and other inhumane acts constituted by":

  • "Widespread and systematic attacks against civilians in the form of Murder of thousands of civilians" through Oplan Double Barrel, Oplan Tokhang, Oplan Double Barrel Alpha, and Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded, which claimed the lives of at least 4,410 in police operations per the PNP's official report;
  • "Widespread and systematic attacks against civilians in the form of Inhumane Acts intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or mental or physical health" under "his anti-drug policy and anti-criminality campaign including Oplan Double Barrel and its permutations, and Oplan Tokhang."

NUPL said Duterte "is criminally responsible and liable for the above mentioned murders, and other inhumane acts, under Article 25, paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Rome Statute being the most senior leader and most responsible for these crimes."

He is also allegedly criminally responsible under Article 28 paragraphs a and b, "being the commander and superior authority over the police and other state security forces who committed the above mentioned acts of murder, inhumane acts, and other forms of persecution in the implementation of his policy against suspected drug and crime suspects."

Conti said they are waiting for the ICC to acknowledge their communication. —with Reuters/KBK, GMA News

Tags: nupl, warondrugs, icc