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Duterte accused of crimes against humanity at International Criminal Court

Jude Sabio, the lawyer for self-confessed hit-man Edgar Matobato with the 78-page complaint against Duterte he has handed to the International Criminal Court

A Philippines lawyer has filed a complaint against President Duterte and senior officials at the International Criminal Court (ICC) today (Monday, April 24), accusing them of crimes against humanity.

Attorney Jude Sabio’s 78-page complaint said that the president “repeatedly, unchangingly and continuously” committed crimes against humanity and that under him, killing drug suspects and other criminal suspects had become widespread.

Sabio represents Edgar Matobato, a a former police officer who claims he killed dozens of people under then Mayor Duterte’s orders while part of the Davao Death Squad.

It is the first complaint to the ICC against the president and is based on the testimony of Matobato and also retired policeman Arturo Lascañas, reports from human rights groups and media reports.

The complaint alleges that Duterte and at least 11 senior government officials are liable for murder and calls for an investigation, arrest warrants and an eventual trial.

Almost 9,000 people have been killed since the president took office last summer. Police claim a third of those killings were in self-defence during legitimate operations. Rights groups allege that many of the remaining two-thirds were committed by vigilantes cooperating with police connivance or by police disguised as vigilantes. Police deny these claims, and say these deaths are all under investigation.

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Duterte has persistently denied he is involved with any death squad and said that his orders to kill drug suspects come with the caveat that police should operate within the bounds of the law.

Despite the president’s constant talk of killing wrongdoers, he nonetheless denies responsibility for any deaths

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said last week authorities “follow operational protocols” and those who breached procedures were made to answer before the law.

He added that news reports about close to 9,000 people being killed in the drug war was “false news”.

Reacting to the news of the complaint being filed today, he said: “The intent of this filing in ICC is clearly to embarrass and shame the President, and undermine the duly constituted government of the Philippines.

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“It is a cynical effort against the reform-oriented agenda of the Duterte administration and of the betterment of the lives of the Filipino people.

“The timing of the filing of the case is suspect – apparently meant to create negative news in the midst of the Philippines ASEAN debut; as it cannot prosper,” said Abella.

He also said that Sabio was wrong to file a complaint with the ICC since it was only “a court of last resort”, which will only exercise jurisdiction if legal remedies in the Philippines have been exhausted.

“Atty Sabio or his client, Mr Edgardo Matobato, did not avail or exhaust all domestic remedies allowed under the Philippine Constitution.”

The complaint is only a possible first step in what could be a long process at the ICC. The tribunal first has to decide whether it has jurisdiction, and then decide on whether it should conduct a preliminary examination.

It can then ask a judge to open an official investigation, which could lead to a trial.

Duterte has said he welcomed the prospect of the ICC putting him on trial. He said last month he would not be intimidated and his campaign against drugs would continue to be “brutal”.

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ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said last year her office was following developments in the Philippines “with a view to assessing whether a preliminary examination needs to be opened”.

“I am deeply concerned about these alleged killings and the fact that public statements of high officials of the Republic of the Philippines seem to condone such killings and further seem to encourage state forces and civilians alike to continue targeting these individuals with lethal force,” she said.


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2 Comments on "Duterte accused of crimes against humanity at International Criminal Court"

  1. Attorney Jude Sabio is a very brave man.
    I would be surprised if he is not murdered within a year.

    That, Duterte worshipers, is why we have not seen 1000 legal challenges to the mass murderer.

  2. “Duterte has persistently denied…”
    He has also persistently ordered cops & the public to murder suspects.
    Here are many Duterte quotes about his love of murder:
    “If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.”
    “If you want to kill the drug addict, just shoot him in the head!”
    “I’m not saying you kill them but the order is ‘dead or alive.’”
    “In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show the guys that if I can do it, why can’t you? And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill.”
    “If you lose your job, I’ll give you one. Kill all the drug addicts,” the President told returning OFWs. “Help me kill addicts. Let’s kill addicts every day.”
    “I killed about three of them. I don’t know how many bullets from my gun went inside their bodies.”
    To human rights activists: “Fine, let’s stop and let the number of drug personalities increase. When harvest time comes and there are many of them, I will include you — because you made the problem bigger.”
    “If they pull out a gun, kill them. If they don’t, kill them still, son of a whore, so it’s over, lest you lose the gun. I’ll take care of you.”
    “There’s 3 million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
    “When I said I’ll stop criminality, I’ll stop criminality. If I have to kill you, I’ll kill you. Personally.”
    “Do not lie to me. You will get shot.”
    “If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination.”
    “Like what happened in San Juan. They were lucky I was not (there). If there was that big haul of shabu, I will really kill you. Let’s not resort to drama. I, myself, will shoot them if nobody would shoot them.”
    “I will have you killed. I will win because of the breakdown of law and order. I do not want to commit a crime. But if by chance per chance God will place me there watch out because that 1,000 will become 100,000. If I win then beware. The fish in Manila Bay will get fat. I will throw you there.”
    Asked if he illegally killed a suspect by dropping him from a helicopter: “Wala naman nakatingin noon.”
    “Forget the laws on human rights. If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. Hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out, because I’d kill you.”
    On media people whom he says are not fair to him: “See how they slant. I don’t know. But someday – I’m not scaring them – but someday, karma will come.”
    “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a b**ch. Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong. If you are an upright journalist, nothing will happen to you. The example here is Pala. I do not want to diminish his memory but he was a rotten son of a b**ch. He deserved it.”
    After repeating death threats to criminal suspects, he said, “Even their lawyers, I will include them.”
    “I intend to also arm the civilians and I will include the civilians, if you kill, you do not have to worry, you just go to the police and make a report and state your truth and you won’t have any problem, I’ll take care of you. I’ll pardon you.”
    “Get out of my city if you’re doing drugs or other crimes, because if you don’t, I’ll kill you.”
    “To all the military men, and to all the police, go out and hunt for them, and I will protect you.”
    To EU officials who disagree with him: “I will just be happy to hang you. If I have the preference, I’ll hang all of you.”

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