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ICC needs evidence on drug war, lawyer says

A lawyer for an organization of slain victims in the Duterte administration's war on drugs has said the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court, which authorized a thorough probe of the anti-drugs drive, must have evidence.

:What the ICC needs is evidence. Plain and simple. If they can get the evidence, in any other way aside from going to the Philippines, aside from physically presenting themselves before the Office of the President or any other office, then they can proceed,” said Kristina Conti, assisting counsel of Rise Up, an organization of the relatives of victims killed in the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. 

ICC judges authorized Wednesday a fully fledged investigation into Duterte's anti-narcotics campaign, which rights groups estimate has killed tens of thousands of people, saying it resembled an illegitimate and systematic attack on civilians.

Duterte and his police chiefs have said the killings were in self-defense, while his government insisted the ICC had no right to meddle in the country's affairs.

Government data shows 6,100 suspected drug dealers have been killed by security forces in anti-drug operations since Duterte took office in mid-2016.

Rights groups say many thousands more were assassinated in slum communities, mostly users killed by mystery gunmen who were never caught, and accuse police of involvement.

PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the police force was open to any investigation but would have to follow the chain of command.

He said  they were waiting for guidance  from their  supervisors or commanders. 

Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said Thursday ICC investigators would not be permitted to enter the country. 

The ICC said there was a "reasonable basis" to believe that the crime against humanity of murder had been committed in the crackdown, adding the investigation would also cover alleged extra-judicial killings in the southern Davao region between 2011 and 2016, when incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte was mayor.

But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines would not not cooperate with the ICC’s investigation.

Conti, a member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said there were ways that lawyers' groups could assist in the ICC investigation.

"First, we will need to cooperate with the Office of the Prosecutor and volunteer ourselves to be part of this prosecution team. Coordinate with them, and as we’ve all seen during this time of the pandemic, there are alternative ways to physical meetings," she said in an ANC interview. 

“So we can meet with them virtually, and the mail is open already, the post offices are open, and we can send them the information that we can (provide),” she said.

Meanwhile, a civil society group urged the Philippine National Police to cooperate in the formal investigation launched by the ICC into possible crimes against humanity committed in President Duterte's war on drugs.

Speaking in an interview over Teleradyo,  Dr. Aurora Parong, co-chair of the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court, said they should call the policemen who had the conscience and values of truth and justice to cooperate with ICC. 

“Hopefully you will do what's right, not only for you, but for the victims of human right violations and our country,” she said,

Parong said the PCICC saw that justice for the victims and their families could only be attained in the ICC.

Topics: Duterte administration , war on drugs , International Criminal Court
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