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“National Terror”: Report supports the International Criminal Court’s investigation into Duterte’s drug war

Llore Pasco held back her tears, still wondering if she did enough to protect her son Crisanto, a father of four and a security guard, and Juan Carlos, a bachelor who works part-time as an electricity cashier and former janitor .

It has been more than four years since the brothers disappeared in a village in Metro Manila on May 11, 2017. That morning, Crisanto left early to apply for a driver’s license and never returned. At noon, when Llore’s family realized that Juan Carlos could not be found, they became anxious.

The next day, after learning that the brothers had passed away on TV, their worries turned into shock and grief. According to reports, they were killed in a police operation after a robbery not far from Quezon City, the capital of the Philippines where they lived.

Lohr immediately suspected a foul. When she discovered that each of her sons had been shot more than a dozen shots, her suspicions increased, including their foreheads.

Llore admitted that her sons had tried drugs before and fell into the “wrong crowd”.

But she said that was before President Rodrigo Duterte took office many years ago. Although the president surrendered to the authorities when the anti-drug crackdown began in mid-2016. She ignored the opposition of her sons and insisted that they report to the village chief because “they have nothing to hide anyway.”

“Sometimes, I still ask myself if it’s all my fault,” she said, her voice choked.

It will take Llore a week and a high cost of $1,500 to recover their bullet-filled bodies.

“I really love my sons… the pain will never really go away,” Lore said of the “insults” suffered by her family.

Llore’s testimony is included in the additional evidence and testimony that INVESTIGATE PH, an independent human rights organization, is seeking to submit to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has begun a preliminary investigation into the president’s so-called “war on drugs.” Thousands of deaths. Llore has previously submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court.

INVESTIGATE PH is one of several human rights organizations supporting the recently retired International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s call for a formal investigation by the Hague Court Suspected of “murder against humanity” Crimes committed during Duterte’s war on drugs.

The families of the victims must submit supplementary documents to the International Criminal Court before August 13, detailing the alleged human rights violations committed by the Duterte administration.

On Wednesday, Llore told Al Jazeera that at least eight families in her team are submitting additional evidence to the International Criminal Court. On Wednesday night, they met again with the families of other victims to persuade them to join their cause.

Duterte “Criminal Responsibility”

The latest government data shows that as of the end of April 2021, police and security forces had killed at least 6,117 suspected drug dealers in operations, although figures quoted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights show that since March, more than 8,600 people have been killed. Kill 2020.

A 2017 report by the Philippine police also mentioned 16,355 “homicides under investigation” as part of its “achievements” in the drug war.

In December 2016, Al Jazeera reported that more than 6,000 people died in the drug war.It questioned Inconsistency in the government record-keeping system And possible data “manipulation”.

Human rights groups say that the death toll may be at least 27,000, including those killed by “unidentified” gunmen, some of whom have proven to be Police officer.

INVESTIGATE PH stated in a statement to Al Jazeera that it also hopes that the UN Human Rights Council will take action and “ensure” Duterte is “criminally responsible for official orders,” which are supported by his numerous public statements. “Kill drug addicts and dissidents.”

The rights group stated that the Philippine government itself is responsible for “thousands of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings and disappearances” and other human rights violations.

Since Duterte’s drug war began in mid-2016, Philippine police chief Guillermo Eleazar said the crime rate has been reduced by 59% [File: Ted Regencia/Al Jazeera]

Duterte and his senior officials defended the police’s operational strategy, calling it a “presumption of regularity.” Although the President issued a public statement urging the police to “kill” the suspect.

In response to a question posed by Al Jazeera on a recent online forum, General Guillermo Elezal, the Philippine police commander, said that in the past five years of the Duterte administration, violent crime has decreased by 59 %-He said that many of them are dealing with drugs.

“I have witnessed the devastating effects of drugs…now everyone can admit that our communities are safer. Although this is indeed not a perfect situation for us, we have made great progress,” Dutt Eliazar, who served as the police commander in Metro Manila at the beginning of his term, said.

Eleazar said that in five years, more than 290,000 drug suspects were arrested, and about 2% of them have died. He said that all those killed resisted the authorities and promised to investigate allegations of abuse.

However, Eleazar acknowledged that the drug problem in the Philippines has not yet been resolved, but the progress has been maintained. He said that some “big-name” drug cartel operators have not been arrested, and many of them are “foreign.”

Among those who have been identified is the so-called “drug lord” Peterlin, who has been photographed with Duterte many times. Earlier this month, the authorities stated that Lin may have left the country despite being prosecuted for drug-related charges in 2018.

‘Abuse template’

INVESTIGATE PH stated that despite increasing pressure from the international community, the Philippine police refused to transfer most of the murder case files to the judicial department in accordance with legal requirements. According to the organization, the most recent request was rejected last month.

The “lack of remedy” for so-called abuses, police attempts to “frequently cover up killings in anti-drug operations,” and documented efforts to “intimidate” family members and potential witnesses will only lead to more reports that the Duterte administration Abuse of power and “national terror” under the government.

The report stated that the “systematic killing machine” developed under the President’s war on drugs is now becoming a template for other abuses, such as Hunt down perceived enemies Members of Duterte’s government, including political opponents, church workers, and activists.

The report also accused government forces of using the guise of a “war on terrorism” in southern Mindanao, failing to distinguish between Muslim fighters and civilians, leading to the massive displacement of Muslim communities.

Australian Senator Janet Rice, a member of the Independent Human Rights Inquiry Commission, stated that the investigation of PH also requires “accountability and end injustice” in the Philippines.

Rice said in a statement: “Throughout the investigation, we have been unswervingly committed to justice for the victims of human rights violations in the Philippines.”

It is expected that the International Criminal Court will decide whether to conduct a formal investigation into Duterte’s war on drugs as early as mid-August.

‘The failed drug war’

Observers said that the investigation of the International Criminal Court is likely to enter the next stage.

Former MP and human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares pointed out that the British lawyer Karim Khan, who succeeded Bensouda as the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, is already familiar with the drug war in the Philippines.

“I don’t see any reason for him to encounter difficulties in the investigation. His background knowledge of what happened here and other human crimes and war crimes around the world is very extensive,” Colmenares said in a recent online forum.

Colmenares also said that although Duterte’s anti-drug war was fierce, “it is clear that his policy has failed.”

“For all the deaths related to the drug war, have we really solved the drug problem? As a country, are we doing better now? Corruption still exists, drugs still prevail, and crime still exists. Obviously, this is one time Failure, President Duterte is incompetent,” Colmenares told Al Jazeera.

According to human rights groups, at least 27,000 people were killed in Duterte’s drug war, including those killed by unidentified gunmen, some of whom turned out to be police officers [File: Ted Regencia/Al Jazeera]

The Duterte administration denounced the latest developments in the International Criminal Court as “politically motivated.”

Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque said that the Philippine government will not cooperate with any of The Hague’s efforts on the grounds that the President decided to cancel its membership of the International Criminal Court in 2019.

Duterte himself announced in June, He won’t participate In the legal review of the International Criminal Court, threats to “beat” the judges of the court, and at the same time referred to international institutions as “bulls**.”

But the former dean of the University of the Philippines Law School, Pacifico Agabin, warned that Duterte’s legal strategy is unwise and may even be counterproductive, because it will only shorten the time for the ICC to review the case and enter a formal trial. During this period, the court can even issue an arrest warrant.

“If the President [Duterte] If you don’t participate, then the survey will proceed faster,” Agabin explained on the same online forum.

The well-respected legal expert said that by participating in the investigation, Duterte and his lawyers will have time to review the evidence provided and question any inconsistencies they may find, thereby prolonging the investigation process.

Tony La Vina, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government in Manila, agreed, saying that Duterte’s team would better participate in the ICC investigation. “They have a better chance to appear, not not to appear.”

However, by participating in the investigation, the Duterte administration will also be required to allow ICC investigators to go to the Philippines to conduct their own investigations.

However, Lavina cited previous cases in Kosovo and Rwanda and pointed out that even without Duterte’s cooperation, the International Criminal Court would still need time to conduct trials and make judgments.

“But the long arms of law and justice reach you in some form. Sometimes, it is only history that makes this judgment. But the judgment will still be made.”

While waiting for the decision of the International Criminal Court, Lorre, the mother of the murdered brothers Crisanto and Juan Carlos, said that the torture of the killing still haunted her.

In March last year, a village official went to Crisanto’s house to look for Juan Carlos. According to reports, the village official came to inform his family that Juan Carlos “has been detoxified,” Llor said, calling it a slap in the face.

Faced with the prospect of a long trial, Llore said she is willing to wait until justice is done.

“Hopefully one day we will finally bring justice. This has given me enough strength to fight. Duterte must be responsible for all his actions.”



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