By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated October 14, 2016 – 8:46am
— with Philstar NewsLab
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2, 9:21 a.m.) — Extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines, when committed in pursuing state policy, may fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the court prosecutor said on Thursday.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the Philippines is a party to the ICC, which examines, investigates and prosecutes crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Bensouda called the reported killings of more than 3,000 drug dealers and users in the Philippines “worrying,” and vowed to follow developments in the country in the following weeks.
“Extra-judicial killings may fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court if they are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population pursuant to a State policy to commit such an attack,” Bensouda said in a statement issued in The Hague.
“Let me be clear: 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,” she added.
Bensouda said statements of officials also seem to encourage violence against suspected drug offenders.
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“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,” Bensouda said.
Bensouda’s office has been conducting investigations in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Georgia. It is also undertaking preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan, Burundi, the registered vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia, Colombia, Gabon, Guinea, Iraq and the United Kingdom, Palestine, Nigeria and Ukraine.
“(We will) record any instance of incitement or resort to violence with a view to assessing whether a preliminary examination into the situation of the Philippines needs to be opened,” Bensouda said.
Gov’t condoning killings?
The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights had a similar observation as the ICC prosecutor. In an unedited version of its concluding observations dated October 7, the UN panel said high-ranking officials are making declarations that could be interpreted as license to commit violence against drug suspects.
“The Committee is deeply concerned that declarations made by high ranking officials in the context of the ‘war on drugs’ may be seen to encourage and legitimize violence against drug users, including extrajudicial killings,” the UN body said in the report.