Joint UN, international court probe on slays under Duterte administration sought

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 04 2019 04:55 PM

ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - A lawyers’ group and relatives of victims of alleged extrajudicial killings in government's drug war have asked the International Criminal Court to run a parallel investigation with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on murder and crimes against humanity charges against President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a second supplemental motion filed before the office of ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers submitted additional evidence on alleged summary killings under the Duterte administration, including updated statistics on fatalities in the drug war and a request for the court to coordinate with the UN rights body.

NUPL Chairperson Neri Colmenares said the ICC may want to access information from the UNHRC, which in July passed a resolution calling for a comprehensive report from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations in Duterte's anti-drug campaign.

“The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has authorized the UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, to examine evidence of thousands of deaths in the Philippines, and obliged her to present a report next year. Such investigation can run parallel to and share the same information with the ICC preliminary examination,” the families and NUPL said in the motion.

Colmenares noted that the ICC has been finding difficulty in proceeding with its examination after Duterte blasted Bensouda and withdrew Manila from the international body.

Colmenares said cooperation between the UN and the ICC may fast-track the process so that Bensouda could finally file a case before the ICC tribunal, which may be followed by the issuance of an arrest warrant against the President.

“Both counts, ang UN resolution hindi lang pabibilisin ang pag-imbestiga ng prosecutor kundi dagdagan niya ang ebidensya for the just resolution of this case,” Colmenares said.

(The UN resolution would not only expedite the prosecutor’s investigation, it would also produce more evidence for the just resolution of this case.)

The NUPL-led communication before the ICC was filed in August 2018, with the first supplemental motion submitted in October of the same year.

According to NUPL lawyer Kristina Conti, aside from emailing the supplemental motion, they also filed a hard copy before the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands.

The motion also included the “deflation” of official government statistics from 6,600 deaths to 5,526 as of June 30, 2019, as well as documentation on the killings of at least 74 minors.

The motion also included the controversial British documentary “On the President’s Orders,” where a Caloocan City police officer supposedly admitted that drug-related killings were done by other policemen.

Normita Lopez of the group Rise UP, whose 23-year old epileptic son Djastin was killed in 2017, said she would continue to fight for justice for victims of alleged extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.

“Eto ako at iba pang pamilya na namatayan, kahit hanggang sa dulo lalaban kami, hindi kami titigil hanggat makamit namin ang hustisya na aming hinanahangad,” Lopez said.

(Here I am and other relatives of EJK victims. We will fight until the end. We will not stop until we get justice.)

Government has asserted it was not involved in summary killings and that those slain in police operations had resisted arrest.