'Duterte threats may be used against him in ICC'

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 17 2016 05:41 PM

Roque to president: Be careful with your language

REMEMBER RWANDA: President Rodrigo Duterte's threats to kill criminals may be used against him should a case be brought to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a party-list lawmaker warned Monday. 

In an interview, Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque recalled how state propaganda was used by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to prosecute the accused in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Up to one million people perished and as many as 250,000 women were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, according to the United Nations. 

Roque said "case law abounds on the effect of speech." 

“What was punished as an act of inciting genocide was repeated radio broadcasts telling the Hutus to taste how awful Tutsi women taste. That became the subject of prosecution in the UN war crimes tribunal for Rwanda…because of their repeated exhortation. It is that kind of exhortation,” he said.

Roque advised the President to be very careful in his speeches because he could be culpable “if his words are construed as having ordered the killings or if he incurs responsibility under the principle of command responsibility because he knew about the crime and he did not do anything to prevent them and to investigate and prosecute the crimes.”

“That is the state of law under international humanitarian law. We cannot alter this.”

Roque, the sole Filipino member of the bar in the ICC, urged Duterte “to be careful with his language and to immediately investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of these killings.”

“That is ultimately his strongest defense,” he said.

Since July, President Duterte has overseen a brutal crackdown on illegal drugs that has left more than 3,000 people dead, both at the hands of police as well as in unexplained circumstances, according to official data.

Last week, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda expressed concern that top Filipino leaders "seem to encourage State forces and civilians alike to continue targeting these individuals with lethal force." 

The Philippines has been an ICC member state since November 2011 "and as such, the Court has jurisdiction over genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory or by nationals of the Philippines," Bensouda said.

Duterte earlier told his critics to stop threatening him about a possible case before the international court, adding he is “willing to rot in jail for the Filipino.”

"Do not keep on threatening or calling my attention. Napaka-corny mo naman. I find this ridiculous. How can you send to prison a President declaring war against (drugs.) Look what happened to Latin America. Almost failed states," he said.

NOT EASY TO FILE ICC CASE - ROQUE

For his part, Roque said Bensouda cannot easily file a case against the President regarding extra-legal killings because only when a case in the Philippines is dismissed can the ICC step in. 

"If it is dismissed, then the prosecutor can investigate but under the statute, Madam Prosecutor let me remind you, she has no unfettered power to start a motu proprio investigation. She has to get an affirmative order from the pretrial chamber to even start a motu proprio investigation, so it is not that easy," he said. 

“The perception of the public is she might but I’m telling you, there are many obstacles to that. She needs a court order from the pretrial chamber and she cannot get that without showing that Philippine authorities are unable or unwilling because of the principle of complementarity which means Philippine courts and authorities have primary jurisdiction for the trial and investigation of crimes against humanity."

Roque said there is no crime as inciting to commit crimes against humanity, adding that the offense is inciting to commit genocide. 

He said the ICC prosecutor must have just made a friendly warning.

“I think she wanted to call the attention of the president but there is no immediate threat of ICC prosecution. It could be a warning but there is no immediate threat of a prosecution. There are many obstacles she will have to hurdle before she can conduct a motu proprio investigation," he said. 

Roque also scored Senator Leila de Lima’s decision to file a case against the chief executive under International Humanitarian Law (IHL). 

“Ano ba naman ‘yang Leila de Lima na ‘yan? Pati law tuturuan mo pa? But anyway, the president cannot invoke immunity from prosecution under the IHL Act and because we have a domestic enabling statute, the prosecution must be here in the Philippines,” he said.

(What is it with Leila de Lima? Do we have to teach her law? But anyway, the president cannot invoke immunity under the IHL act and because we have a domestic enabling statute, the prosecution must be here in the Philippines.)