Thousands of killings in drug war ‘encouraged’ by Duterte — ICC prober

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 13) — Former President Rodrigo Duterte “encouraged” the bloody crackdown on illegal drugs in the Philippines, according to an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor.

In the 59-page response filed before the ICC Appeals Chamber, a copy of which was released on Wednesday, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan rejected the Philippine government’s claim that the killings and other crimes related to the anti-drug campaign are of “marginal gravity.”

“To the contrary, they are extremely serious, and appear to have been at the very least encouraged and condoned by high-level government officials, up to and including the former President,” Khan said.

He said that the war on drugs launched by Duterte killed over 5,000 and possibly about 30,000 civilians, led by authorities or “unidentified” perpetrators apparently acting in coordination with police.”

Khan also pointed out that the police “allegedly staged self-defense scenarios, planted evidence, or otherwise obstructed justice in an effort to justify the premeditated and deliberate murder of civilians.”

The Chamber, he said, also authorized probes into other crimes committed that were linked to the drug war.

“The available information indicates that torture, other inhumane acts, and other crimes were also committed in connection with the ‘war on drugs’ campaign,” Khan said.

“Nothing about these crimes, committed in large part by law enforcement personnel entrusted with protecting citizens from violence, suggests that the potential cases before the Court are of marginal gravity,” he added.

Rejecting the Philippine government’s arguments, Khan sought to dismiss the former’s appeal as he pushed for the resumption of the investigation.

READ: ICC prosecutor rejects PH gov’t’s arguments in plea vs. drug war probe

In March, the Philippines formally asked the ICC to reverse its decision to reopen the drug war probe, saying it would violate the country’s sovereignty.

Duterte’s successor, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said the Philippines would “disengage from any contact” with the ICC after it rejected the government's deferral request.