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ICC receives new evidence against Duterte

Families of drug war victims hope recent admissions to killings by policemen will prove damning

Mark Saludes, Manila

Mark Saludes, Manila

Updated: October 07, 2019 07:57 AM GMT
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ICC receives new evidence against Duterte

Families of victims of alleged drug-related killings hold a media briefing in Manila following the filing of additional evidence before the International Criminal Court to support their claims. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

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Relatives of victims of alleged drug-related killings in the Philippines have submitted additional evidence against President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

A 16-page "supplemental pleading" report to support their complaint against the president was electronically transmitted to the court in the Netherlands on Oct. 3.

The families, who were assisted by the faith-based group Rise Up for Life and for Rights, were assisted by members of the National Union of People’s Lawyers.

Rise Up for Life and for Rights and six families of alleged extrajudicial killing victims filed the first complaint against Duterte on Aug. 28, 2018.

The ICC started its probe the killings in February last year.

Lawyer Kristina Conti said the additional evidence submitted last week included Duterte’s recent pronouncements ordering the police to kill drug suspects and the admission by some policemen of involvement in the killings.

In a documentary film, "On the President’s Orders," policemen described incidents where suspected drug dealers and users were killed.

The victims’ relatives accused the Philippine National Police of "manipulating the numbers, definitions and categorizations" of drug-related deaths.

As of June 2019, authorities reported that 5,526 people had been killed in legitimate anti-narcotics police operations contrary to the more than 30,000 deaths estimated by several rights groups.

"We also presented at least 74 minors who have been killed in the war on drugs campaign. They were either direct targets or as resulting casualty," said lawyer Conti.

Normita Lopez, mother of one of the victims and one of the complainants, said the case filed in the ICC is "our only hope” because Duterte will not be charged in the Philippines.

"We are poor but we are determined to pursue this. We want justice for our loved ones who were denied of their rights and lives," she said.

Lawyer Neri Colmenares said he and the other lawyers are optimistic that the case against the president will be pushed through.

"He publicly ordered the killings. We are aware of that. Then he refuses to be investigated. He blocked the prosecutor from conducting the probe," he said.

The Philippine government has refused to submit evidence to the international court. It has also withdrawn its ratification of the Rome Statute that established the international court.

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