ICC to continue probe of killings
Unfazed by Malacañang’s warning, International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda would continue to look into extrajudicial killings attributed to President Rodrigo Duterte’s antidrugs campaign and assess whether she would open an investigation.
Bensouda said the ICC retained jurisdiction to prosecute the Duterte administration for any crimes of humanity committed before the Philippines withdrew from the international treaty that created the court.
“My office’s independent and impartial preliminary examination into the situation in the Philippines continues,” said Bensouda in a statement Tuesday confirming the Philippines’ withdrawal.
Pointing to the Rome Statute’s Article 127.2 and a prior ICC ruling for Burundi, she stressed said the ICC “retains its jurisdiction over crimes committed during the time in which the state was party to the statute.”
The ICC “may exercise its jurisdiction even after the withdrawal becomes effective,” she added.
Bensouda has been denigrated by the President and his officials since she announced last year that her office would conduct a “preliminary examination” into the complaint filed by lawyer Jude Sabio for crimes against humanity allegedly committed under the President’s war on drugs.
The ICC can prosecute genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute took effect on March 17 after the one-year notice.
But the Palace on Tuesday scoffed at Bensouda, saying she would be violating the Rome Statute for stating that the ICC would continue to investigate even after the Philippines had withdrawn from the treaty.
“As I said, if she does it that means she is violating the Rome Statute,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said of Bensounda.
Panelo said the ICC prosecutors cannot come into the country because they will be intruding into Philippine sovereignty if they investigated here.
Rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the withdrawal of the Philippines from the ICC was an “act of desperation” by the President.
“Duterte may think that his country’s withdrawal from the ICC is a show of strength,” said Param Preet Singh, HRW associate director for international justice program.
In a statement, Singh reminded the President that despite the withdrawal, the ICC could still probe his responsibility for the thousands of extrajudicial killings under his term.
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