Let the world condemn Duterte

April 28, 2017

A Filipino lawyer formally asked the International Criminal Court on Monday to charge President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity over the extrajudicial killings of thousands of people in the Philippines over the past three decades. The I.C.C. should promptly open a preliminary investigation into the killings.

The lawyer, Jude Josue Sabio, filed the complaint in his own name, but he also represents two men who have publicly said they were paid members of the death squad that Duterte set up in Davao City when he was the mayor to hunt down drug dealers. After he was elected president last year, Duterte took the killing campaign nationwide, effectively declaring an open season for police and vigilantes on drug dealers and users. In all, Sabio said in the 77-page filing, more than 9,400 people have been killed, most of them poor young men, but also bystanders, children and political opponents.

Sabio is not the first to accuse Duterte of mass killings — so have Human Rights Watch, in 2009; Amnesty International, this January; and some brave Filipino politicians. The I.C.C. chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, declared last October that the court was “closely following” developments in the Philippines.
There are reasons why the I.C.C. might be reluctant to go after Duterte. He is enormously popular with many Filipinos, for whom narcotics are a major scourge.
The court, moreover, was created to prosecute cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes among member countries only when their national courts are unwilling or unable to do so. Those conditions might be met if the Philippines House of Representatives, dominated by Duterte’s allies, quashes, as expected, an impeachment motion filed by an opposition lawyer. But there is already more than enough evidence for a preliminary investigation, which would send an unmistakable signal to Duterte that he may eventually have to answer for his crimes, and would encourage governments to take measures against him, such as imposing tariffs on Philippine goods.

And if the findings of Sabio, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and politicians, or the confessions of the former death squad members, are not enough evidence, there are Duterte’s savage words. “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he told reporters in one of his most outrageous statements (and misstating the figure for the Holocaust, which is six million).
(Source: The NYT)
 

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