Manila, Aug 28 (IANS) The families of the victims of the war against drugs in the Philippines filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday alleging crimes against humanity by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The complaint was filed by six family members of people killed during the anti-drug campaign, and the religious organization Rise Up, which has been offering legal and psychological aid to those affected by the campaign, Efe news reported.
“This is the first case directly filed by the families of victims themselves against the sitting Head of State for the mass murder of, and, other inhumane acts committed against thousands of Filipinos,” according to the executive summary of the complaint filed at the ICC.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that they were not concerned about the complaint, the third against Duterte at the ICC.
According to official figures, over 4,200 suspects have been killed in police raids, but human rights organizations put the figure at 15,000-20,000.
The plaintiffs said the deaths, as well as Duterte’s words that incited the killings, were sufficient proof of “widespread and systematic attacks against civilians”.
The complaint was presented before the office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, through the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.
“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,” Rise Up coordinator Rybylin Litao said.
The organization explained that they decided to approach the ICC due to the gravity of the situation and because of the President’s immunity from prosecution in the Philippines.
Rise Up also described the recent replacement of Supreme Court Chief Justice and Ombudsman by figures known to support the President as “concerning”.
The Supreme Court of the Philippines on Tuesday started hearing oral arguments by a group of senators against the country’s withdrawal from the ICC on Duterte’s orders.
Although Duterte on March 14 announced the country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, the measures will only come into effect a year after the official notification.