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Drug war won't stop, Duterte tells ICC

12 February 2018

Jose Luis Gascon, chief of the Commission on Human Rights, has urged police and the Justice Ministry to cooperate with the International Criminal Court in its "preliminary examination" into whether Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has committed a crime against humanity in conducting his crackdown on drugs.

"Specifically it has been alleged that since July 2016 thousands of persons have been killed for reasons related to their alleged involvement in illegal drug use or dealing", she said.

"There are adequate laws and remedies in our country to address the issue of alleged extra-judicial killings", the lawyer pointed out.

Responding to the news that the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court will open a preliminary examination into the "war on drugs" in the Philippines, James Gomez, Amnesty International's Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said, "Today's announcement marks a crucial moment for justice and accountability in the Philippines and offer a glimmer of hope to victims of the shocking atrocities committed in the government's so called "war on drugs".

Fatou Bensouda said it would look at reports of extrajudicial killings.

"He is very confident that the prosecutor. will not go beyond a preliminary investigation", Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque told reporters. He said Duterte welcomed the development because it gives him a chance to clear his name.

The mission did not lead to Duterte's prosecution and Roque said the president expects the same outcome.

Roque expressed confidence the move against Duterte would fail.

"Moreover the alleged deaths attributed to the war on drugs is because of lawful police operations and can not therefore constitute an attack against civilians which is required in the worldwide crime of crimes against humanity".

Ms Bensouda said an initial examination would also be opened into the use of excessive force in Venezuela.

"Our domestic courts are able and willing to prosecute these crimes", Roque said.

The ICC's initial inquiry is created to help prosecutors determine if there is enough evidence of crimes that fall under its jurisdiction.

Bensouda said prosecutors "will be engaging with the national authorities concerned with a view to discussing and assessing any relevant investigation and prosecution at the national level".

The government of President Nicolas Maduro has faced accusations of human rights violations following protests a year ago in which more than 120 people were killed. "I have made a decision to open a preliminary examination into each situation".

Drug war won't stop, Duterte tells ICC