MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's expected refusal to cooperate with the International Criminal Court on any possible investigation into his deadly drug war will not be an obstacle, Amnesty International said Tuesday.
The group's Secretary-General Agnes Callamard noted that the ICC has long probed state leaders charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community without cooperation from concerned governments.
"So far, the government is refusing to cooperate. The investigation will have to take place outside the Philippines, so it's not going to be a straightforward investigation. The ICC has a lot of experience doing so. So I'm not worried about it," she told ANC.
Malacañang has asserted that Duterte will never cooperate with the international tribunal, hours after ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested authorization to open a full probe into drug war killings in the Philippines, as crimes against humanity could have been committed.
Callamard said Filipinos and the international community can "only hope" that the Duterte administration will think twice over its anti-narcotics war, which, according to government data, has led to deaths of more than 6,000 suspected drug personalities.
"Unfortunately, the government of the Philippines has turned a blind eye and deaf ear to all the evidence," she said, noting Manila's previous alleged attempts to avoid accountability for extrajudicial killings in the country since Duterte assumed power in 2016.
Callamard said she hopes someone in the administration "will put an end to this bloodbath and deliver justice."
Rights groups say authorities have summarily executed drug suspects due to Duterte's inciting of deadly violence. Police deny this and the President has insisted many times that police kill only in self-defense.
In March 2018, Duterte canceled the Philippines' membership of the ICC's founding treaty just weeks after Bensouda announced the preliminary examination was underway. He claims the ICC is prejudiced against him.
Malacañang spokesperson Harry Roque, a former practicing human rights lawyer, argued earlier Tuesday that since the Philippines is no longer a member of the ICC and will not cooperate, the tribunal would not be able to build a case.
Under the ICC statute, the prosecutor must ask judges for permission to open an official investigation into alleged crimes. The tribunal's judges have up to four months to issue a decision on such a request.
The court also keeps jurisdiction over crimes committed during the membership period of a state, in this case between 2016 and 2019, when the Philippines' pullout became official.