Philippine Supreme Court Declares ICC Has Jurisdiction

FILE PHOTO: Residents and police gather around the body of a suspect killed in a drug operation in an informal settler area near a port in Manila on November 10, 2016 (AFP)

The Philippines’ top judges have ruled that the International Criminal Court can prosecute “government actors” for crimes allegedly committed before the country withdrew from the tribunal, contradicting President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that it did not skill.

The Supreme Court’s ruling – released in March but released in full on Wednesday – comes as prosecutors at the world’s only permanent war crimes court call for a full investigation into Duterte’s war on drugs, which according to reports. activists, killed tens of thousands of people. people.

Duterte was elected in 2016 on an election promise to get rid of the country’s drug problem, and he openly ordered police to kill suspects if their lives were in danger.

The president said he would never cooperate with an ICC investigation, saying the tribunal had no jurisdiction over the Southeast Asian country.

The Philippines left the ICC in 2019 after the court launched a preliminary review of the drug crackdown.

But the whole bench of the Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that the ICC “retains jurisdiction over all acts committed by government actors until March 17, 2019” – spanning the first three years of the presidency of Duterte and the war on drugs.

“The withdrawal (…) does not affect the responsibility of those indicted before the International Criminal Court for acts committed up to that date,” said the 15 judges in the decision, which rejected a request by six senators current and former challenging Duterte’s decision to withdraw from the ICC.

“This will keep Duterte awake from now on,” said former senator and voice critic Antonio Trillanes, who was one of the petitioners.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“That’s good,” said Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of People’s Advocates, which represents some of the relatives of the victims of the war on drugs in the case filed with the ICC.

Olalia said he was convinced there was enough evidence to prosecute Duterte, but it would take time.

“We are ready for the long term,” he told AFP.

Duterte is not allowed to run for re-election next year under the one-term limit of the Philippine constitution.

But he signaled the possibility of running for vice-president.

Her daughter, Sara, is expected to challenge the top post and, if she wins, could help protect her father from criminal charges.

Thelma J. Longworth

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