It was the former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, who had ruthlessly pursued a complaint against the war on drugs that will not stand up if filed with any criminal court.
What had motivated Bensouda, who is a liberal democrat in her native Gambia and who played a pivotal role in a bloodless coup in her country, in assiduously pursuing President Rodrigo Duterte?
Before Bensouda retired last June, she recommended the ICC initiates the investigation into the war on drugs.
Bensouda’s purpose before leaving the ICC was crystal clear as she released a preliminary report, which found “reasonable basis to believe” that offenses alleged of Mr. Duterte and his officials have been committed.
Launched in February 2018, the ICC investigation pushed the Philippine withdrawal from the ICC in March 2019. President Duterte said the situation in the country where the judiciary is fully functioning leaves the ICC without jurisdiction, and its actions constituted meddling.
He later directed the withdrawal of the country from the Rome Statute that created the ICC.
Lawyer Jude Sabio, who filed the complaint with the ICC later on, withdrew his information, but Bensouda said the move did not extinguish the ongoing case reflecting tacit objectives of the person and ICC official.
Bensouda started her term in 2012 after she became the consensus choice to succeed Argentinian lawyer Luis Moreno Ocampo as ICC prosecutor. Ocampo, however, remained an influential force behind Bensouda.
In October 2017, Bensouda and two members of her staff were accused by the German publication Der Spiegel of keeping in touch with Ocampo, Dan Steinbock, an independent political analyst and researcher, said. The magazine alleged Bensouda shared confidential information with Ocampo.
Bensouda allegedly sought her predecessor’s advice on several occasions, raising the possibility that she allowed herself to be influenced by Ocampo in ICC cases.
That raised a conflict-of-interest situation since most of the ICC cases have material interest to Ocampo’s private practice.
Such interests are tied to organizations funded by the controversial billionaire speculator George Soros, whom critics believe he is using philanthropic endeavors for financial goals.
Soros infused funds in 1990 into a real estate conglomerate called IRSA, which in turn is a major backer of Ocampo’s nongovernment organization in Argentina.
Ocampo also worked for Transparency International, a corruption watchdog that’s funded in part by Soros and has been criticized for bias against developing countries.
Bensouda is linked to Ocampo, who has a known interest in the Philippines, such as Rappler’s founder eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar and Rappler founder Maria Ressa’s lawyer Amal Clooney.
European Investigative Collaborations has reported the ICC, Clooney and Omidyar may have “interfered in the pursuit of global justice.”
Clooney and Ocampo also have links with Madeleine Albright, head of the Democratic arm of the National Endowment for Democracy.
The bottom line is Bensouda moves in the same circle that had kept the “Oust Duterte” movement going for the past five years without let up in disregard of the strong mandate that Mr. Duterte had shown consistently even in his twilight year.