ICC opens preliminary review of Duterte gov’t’s war on drugs

Image from South Korean Human Rights Monitor
  • The ICC is opening a preliminary review on Duterte’s war on drugs
  • Roque said this is only an initial step to determine if there is reasonable ground to launch a preliminary investigation
  • The President welcomes the ICC move, said Roque

MANILA, Philippines   –  Nearly a year after a Filipino lawyer sent a communication to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Hague-based court is finally taking its first step to look into the allegations against President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly committing crime against humanity.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday bared the ICC is opening a preliminary review on Duterte’s war on drugs which allegedly spawned extrajudicial killings in the country.

Roque, however, clarified it was only a communication, and not a case, that was filed by lawyer Jude Sabio last April 2017 before the ICC. Sabio is the legal counsel of self-confessed Duterte D***h Squad (DDS) hitman Edgar Matobato.

“Our mission in The Hague was informed that the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is opening a preliminary examination on the alleged acts associated with the campaign against illegal drugs covering the period of July 2016,” Roque told reporters.

Question of jurisdiction

A preliminary review, according to Roque, is only the initial step to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to conduct a preliminary investigation.

The Palace official added Duterte welcomes the ICC  move as the President is becoming ‘sick and tired’ of being accused of committing crime against humanity.

This is also an opportunity for the President to prove that the ICC lacks jurisdiction to tackle the subject since domestic courts has domestic international humanitarian law statutes in its jurisdiction, said Roque.

“My statement is we agreed to be a member of the ICC because of the principle of complementarity that the court will only exercise jurisdiction if our courts are unwilling or unable to exercise jurisdiction on any crime cognizable by the International Criminal Court,” he explained.

According to Roque, Duterte is willing to appear before the Court to argue his case personally, with the intent of asking the prosecutor who prodded them into conducting the preliminary review since the President always suspected the “domestic enemies of the state” are behind the move.