After months of virtual silence, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has announced that her office continues its “thorough factual and legal assessment” of available information on the Philippine drug war to determine if it has jurisdiction over alleged crimes under the Rome Statute.
This was part of her annual report on the preliminary examination activities to the body, reports said.
So far, the report said Bensouda has obtained some 52 communications, such as publicly available information coming from groups, non-governmental or intergovernmental and assessing the reliability of sources and credibility of the information.
The Philippines withdrew its membership from the ICC in February last year, although case-wise, if one should be filed against President Duterte before the ICC, the withdrawal takes effect a year after the formal withdrawal.
This means that in some two months, the country will no longer be a member of the ICC.
However, according to the rules, cases can still be brought against a country member even when it has withdrawn its membership.
Still, the chances of a case filed against Duterte are fairly dim, as the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, provided that it may only investigate alleged crimes if the “State is unwilling or unable to genuinely carry out the investigation or prosecution.”
It would be fairly difficult for the ICC prosecutor to file a case against Duterte, given the ICC’s existing rule that directly impacts on the country’s judicial system.
It can hardly be denied that the Philippines under Duterte is not unwilling and not unable to genuinely carry out the investigation and prosecution of such drug cases.
This was proven recently when at least three policemen who stood accused of the murder of Kian, a young man who the cops claimed was a drug runner or user but who apparently was not one, were convicted by a Metro Manila Regional Trial Court recently. This tends to prove that the Philippine courts are able to try such cases as well as convict those whom the courts find guilty and based on evidence.
Bensouda, in her annual report, stated Duterte and other senior government officials stand accused of promoting and encouraging “the killing of suspected or purported drug users and/or dealers and in such context, members of PNP (Philippine National Police) forces and private individuals (such as vigilante groups) have carried out thousands of killings throughout the Philippines,” particularly in Metro Manila.
The report also listed down the number of deaths, placing it at 12,000 due to either involvement in drug use or drug-dealing, mistaken identity or as collateral damage in the anti-drug operations of Philippine police.
Bensouda’s figures of the deaths occurring due to the above allegations are highly questionable and largely come from the political opposition and biased rights groups, domestic and international, who generally get their information from polluted and politically biased sources, along with media reports that are just as questionable.
The 12,000 number on deaths allegedly due to the drug war was earlier reported by Rappler, when that death figure was not based on facts. The deaths hardly hit that figure even then.
That the drug death number is a product of dirty politics and plucked from thin air can easily be debunked as the number of deaths, all coming from opposition politicians and the rights groups, kept on increasing.
From the first falsely reported number of 12,000 deaths, suddenly there were the same false reported increases in figures. Suddenly, deaths due to Duterte’s drug war jumped to 20,000 which the opposition senators and their leftist counterparts in the House claimed and echoed even in the international media. The latest figure of some 85,000 appears to have come from the detained senator on drug charges, Leila de Lima, who hates Duterte with a passion, but who gets the ear of these biased rights groups and even the ICC prosecutor.
The number appears to have been corrected, with the official figure at over 4,000.
Bensouda’s report claimed “thousands have been killed by unknown assailants, and that police officers were behind or themselves committed vigilante-style killings, along with the claim some local officials were killed because of their alleged links to the illegal drug trade.”
Obviously, this ICC prosecutor’s report is hardly based on facts which does not speak well of her and her report.
Bensouda was quoted as saying that in making its legal and factual analysis, her office examined the circumstances surrounding the incident, such as the profile of the alleged victims, the identity of perpetrators and the modus operandi employed.
Really? How can this be done, when the death figures given by her polluted sources are not based on facts?
Bensouda also cited “contextual background such as the time of Duterte’s fight against crime and drugs when he was mayor of Davao City” where he allegedly supported killings of petty criminals and drug dealers, his campaign promise to end drugs and criminality within six months and the launch of the drug war shortly after he came to power.
It certainly looks like Bensouda, the ICC and the United Nations unfairly are out to politically persecute, not prosecute, Duterte since he does not bow to them.