Posted by News Express | 15 June 2021 | 218 times
The outgoing prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has sought authorisation from The Hague tribunal to open a full investigation into Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s ongoing war on drugs that killed thousands of people, including innocent children.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, whose term ends on Tuesday, said a preliminary probe that began in February 2018 determined “that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the Crime Against Humanity of murder was committed” in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019, which was when Duterte ordered that the Philippines withdrew from the court.
The suspected crimes happened “in the context of the government of Philippines ‘war on drugs’ campaign,” Bensouda said in a statement on Monday announcing that she was seeking judicial authorisation to proceed with a full investigation.
“Information obtained by the Prosecution suggests that state actors, primarily members of the Philippine security forces, killed thousands of suspected drug users and other civilians during official law enforcement operations.”
Duterte launched his deadly campaign against narcotics shortly after his victory in the May 2016 presidential elections.
Duterte ran on a single issue of fighting crimes in the Philippines, and during his campaign and later as president, he repeatedly urged police to “kill” drug suspects.
The latest government data shows that as of the end of April 2021, police and security forces have killed at least 6,117 suspected drug dealers during operations, although earlier government figures showed at least 8,600 deaths.
A Philippine police report in 2017, however, referred to 16,355 “homicide cases under investigations” as accomplishments in the drugs war.
As early as December 2016, Al Jazeera had already reported more than 6,000 deaths in the drug war, raising questions about the inconsistency of the government’s numbers.
Rights groups say the number of deaths could be at least 27,000, and accuse the authorities of carrying out summary executions that killed innocent suspects including children. Countless people were also killed by “unknown” gunmen.
Police say the suspects were killed when they resisted arrest and became violent, but there have been documented cases of suspects being executed, or survivors saying police shot unarmed civilians.
The drug war killings have also continued even in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, as Duterte vowed to that there is no stopping in pursuing suspects. (Al Jazeera)
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