THE HAGUE, Netherlands – (AP) – The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said Thursday that she is “deeply concerned” about reports of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and users in the Philippines.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda also said that statements by “high officials” in the Asian nation “seem to condone such killings.”
The written statement by Bensouda appeared aimed as a blunt warning to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, whose anti-drug crackdown has left an estimated 3,000 people allegedly involved in the drug trade dead.
The Philippines is a member state of the International Criminal Court, the world’s first global court prosecuting war crimes and crimes against humanity, so crimes committed there could be prosecuted at the Hague-based institution.
“Any person in the Philippines who incites or engages in acts of mass violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing, in any other manner, to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution before the Court,” Bensouda said.
She said her office will closely monitor developments in the Philippines in coming weeks with a view to establishing whether she should open a preliminary investigation.
Since becoming president in June, Duterte has drawn widespread criticism for his country’s deadly war on drugs.
Last week, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. remains “deeply concerned by reports of widespread extrajudicial killings by or at the behest of government authorities in the Philippines. The use of that kind of tactic is entirely inconsistent with universal human rights and the shared values of our two countries.”