The Philippines: ICC examination into drug killings a crucial moment for justice

MANILA. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV right and Magdalo Partylist Representative Gary Alejano submitted in June 2017 a 45-page communication before the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to affirm and supplement the commun

Int'l Criminal Court to begin preliminary examination on PH killings

While under the ICC's founding Rome Statute, to which both Philippines and Venezuela are party, national jurisdictions have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible for global crimes, Ms. Bensouda emphasized that a preliminary examination is an information-examining process to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation pursuant to Rome Statute criteria. The ICC's website carried no announcement or information on Thursday concerning the complaint against Duterte.

The global court is a last resort that takes on cases when national authorities can not or will not launch domestic prosecutions.

In his 78-page complaint, Sabio requested that the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC "commit Duterte and his senior government officials to the Trial Chamber for trial and that the Trial Chamber in turn, after trial, convict them and sentence to corresponding prison sentence or life imprisonment".

In 2016, Mr Duterte said that he would be "happy to slaughter" millions of drug addicts in the island nation and referred to former President Barack Obama as a "son of a whore" when the U.S. leader criticised the policy.

While Duterte insists he is not responsible for any unlawful deaths, police have reported killing almost 4,000 people in his anti-drug campaign.

He said the government was unfazed, stressing that the war on drugs was a "legitimate police operation".

Since the man nicknamed the Death Squad Mayor swept to power on a promise to eliminate all the country's suspected drug users and dealers, thousands of Filipinos have been killed - either shot dead in police raids with high death tolls and few witnesses, or assassinated by men on motorbikes, often after being named by police.

"In our case they will not go beyon preliminary examination", Roque said.

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Vallerand, an epidemiologist at the University of Calgary , said she was surprised to see such a markedly increased risk. However, they advised doctors to carefully monitor their patients for depression and seek proper treatment if necessary.

Nevertheless, Roque said Duterte welcomes the ICC move. Duterte and police have denied any wrongdoing.

While the government insists that all the killings were lawful, Duterte has been repeatedly quoted saying in public that he "will kill more if only to get rid of drugs".

"It's not a complaint, it's a communication because there's no complaint yet, there are no charges yet".

Legal experts explained a preliminary examination constituted the first step to be taken by the ICC prosecutor to determine whether there was enough evidence to elevate the cases before the tribunal.

Bensouda also expressed her intention to conduct a preliminary examination of the situation concerning political unrest and demonstrations in Venezuela. "Trillanes and Cong. Alejano, we will hurdle this first big step, and hopefully a warrant of arrest will be issued by the ICC against Duterte and his cohorts", Sabio said.

Roque said that the case was not subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC because Philippine courts were "more than able and willing" to exercise jurisdiction.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes welcomed the ICC decision on Thursday.

Filipino lawyer Jude Sabio filed a complaint before the ICC in April past year, accusing Duterte of being a mass murderer and committing extrajudicial killings since 1988.

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