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03/09

Families of drug war victims file complaint against Duterte

Despite the staggering statistics, the government has investigated a limited number of cases involving its forces perpetuating thus the climate of impunity as the President continues to egg the police on to kill drug users and peddlers.

The families of the victims of President Duterte’s deadly war on drugs have filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing him of committing crimes against humanity.

Crimes against humanity is defined in the Rome Statute of the ICC as acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.

The complainants are members of Rise Up for Life and for Rights, an ecumenical network of church-based advocates and families of victims of drug-related killings calling for justice and for the genuine resolution of the drug problem and poverty in the country. TWHA partner Karapatan is supporting Rise Up through capacity-building activities such as training on documentation of cases, media forums and conferences, protest rallies and lobbying with the lawmakers.

The families are represented by the National Union of People’s Lawyers, a progressive group of human rights lawyers that has been rendering legal services to victims of human rights violations, especially the poor and the marginalized.

Widespread and systematic attacks

They are accusing Duterte of widespread and systematic attacks against civilians in the form of murder of thousands through his publicly pronounced policy against drug suspects, and through such police directives as Oplan Tokhang, Oplan Double Barrel and Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded (national law enforcement programs implemented by Philippine National Police against narcotics trade). These Oplans resulted in the death of at least 4,410 persons in police operations and more than 23,000 killings related to the anti-drugs campaign of the government.

Despite the staggering statistics, the government has investigated a limited number of cases involving its forces perpetuating thus the climate of impunity as the President continues to egg the police on to kill drug users and peddlers.

They are killing humans, not animals. We, mothers of the victims, are here because we want to show to the world that we will not remain silent in the midst of the continuing killings. We will fight until these killings are stopped,” said one of the complainants during a media briefing.

The group filed the complaint despite Duterte’s declaration last March to withdraw from the ICC following the latter’s preliminary examination of the first complaint filed against the president in connection with the high number of killings under his war on drugs campaign.

Investigation despite ICC withdrawal

According to the Rome Statute, however, a state party's withdrawal from the ICC can only take effect a year after the written notification of the withdrawal is received by the United Nations secretary-general.

 

Legal experts also said that the withdrawal would not stop the ICC prosecutor’s preliminary examination of the complaint about extrajudicial killings and crimes against humanity filed against the president.

 

"These killings must be stopped and justice must be served, not only for the individual families of the victims but for all of us as a people. The poor have been striving hard to get out of poverty but the President's answer buried them instead, literally and figuratively, to greater woes. And now, this prevailing atmosphere of death and impunity forces us to live in fear of the state forces and masked men roaming around our humble communities, carrying a license to kill assured by no less than the President himself," said Deaconess Rubylin Litao, coordinator of Rise Up, in a statement.#

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