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Philippines’ Duterte hit by new ICC complaint over deadly drug war


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MANILA (Reuters): Activists and families of eight victims of the Philippines’ “war on drugs” filed a complaint on Tuesday with the International Criminal Court (ICC), a second petition accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of murder and crimes against humanity.

The 50-page complaint calls for Duterte’s indictment over thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings during his crackdown on drugs, which the activists and families said included “brazen” executions by police acting with impunity.

Critics of the campaign were being “persecuted”, they said, and cases filed by victims’ families had gone nowhere.

The latest move is led by a network of activists, priests and members of the poor, urban communities that have borne the brunt of a fierce two-year campaign in which police have killed about 4,400 people, causing international alarm.

“Duterte is personally liable for ordering state police to undertake mass killings,” Neri Colmenares, a lawyer representing the group, told reporters.

Duterte insists he told police to kill only in self-defence and has lashed out at critics while demonstrating no remorse for the deaths. In a national address last month, he said the drugs war would be remain “relentless and chilling”.

Benigno Durana, a national police spokesman, said the only order Duterte gave to police was “to wage war on drugs and criminality within the bounds of the law”.

The ICC petition, known as a communication, follows a similar complaint filed in April 2017 by a Philippine lawyer and backed by two opposition lawmakers, into which the ICC in February started a preliminary examination.

Human rights groups believe the death toll could be far higher than the one the police give, and accuse law enforcement of summarily executing suspected drug users and small-time dealers, using only cursory intelligence. Police reject that.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the latest petition was “doomed”, because the Philippines’ was no longer covered by the ICC’s Rome Statute.

Duterte unilaterally withdrew in March from the ICC’s founding treaty, saying it skirted due process and presumption of his innocence and sought to portray him as a “ruthless and heartless violator of human rights”.


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