International Criminal Court urged to probe Duterte, killings

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 23 2016 09:31 PM | Updated as of Nov 23 2016 10:02 PM

International Criminal Court urged to probe Duterte, killings 1
Heavy rain pours as the body of a man killed by unidentified gunmen is left in a narrow alley in Manila. Damir Sagolj, Reuters/FILE

THE HAGUE - An international human rights group on Wednesday called for an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation against President Rodrigo Duterte and alleged extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. 

"Our greatest concern is that there appears to be crimes against humanity being committed in the Philippines with no attempt to stop them no attempt to investigate and prosecute them," Alison Smith from the group No Peace Without Justice told ABS-CBN News.

At the sidelines of the 15th Session of the ICC Assembly of States, No Peace Without Justice conducted a side event called "International Criminal Liability for Spoken Word Alone: Inducing and Soliciting Crimes against Humanity under Article 25(3)(b) of the Rome ICC Statute. A prima facie case against President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines."

The group said Duterte could be guilty of violating Article 25(3)(b) of the ICC's Rome Statute, which states that an individual is criminally responsible and liable for punishment for crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction if that person “orders, solicits or induces the commission of such a crime which in fact occurs or is attempted."

Since Duterte assumed the presidency, there have been at least 2,236 drug-related deaths. Of this number, 1,287 died in police operations while 788 were killed by unidentified assailants.

The group said the ICC should take action to curb "state-sponsored" violence in the Philippines. 

"There is no investigation currently taking place (at the ICC), the prosecutor has stated that she is watching the Philippines to see whether there are crimes that might be under the jurisdiction of the court, and for us this is a good thing because its part of her obligation to watch whats going on with the state parties and to say shes watching whats happening," said Smith.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda earlier said she is “deeply concerned" about the alleged killings and officials seemingly condoning them.

Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Jaime Victor Ledda said he has not received any official queries from the ICC regarding the issue. 

"The important thing here is to convey the position of the Philippines with respect to the illegal drugs campaign and seek understanding of what were going through and trying to do to address the situation," he said.

Created in 1998 through the United Nations treaty called the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over 124 territories, including the Philippines, which became a signatory 16 years ago.

Duterte recently threatened to follow Russia in its withdrawal from the international tribunal.

Smith said any withdrawal from the Rome Statute would be regrettable. 

"The state parties here would prefer that doesn't happen...that being said, if the decision is taken to withdraw then we would be looking forward to welcome the Philippines back when its ready to rejoin the Rome Statute system," she said.