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‘We do not need foreigners to investigate killings’: Philippines leader Duterte won’t cooperate with ICC killings probe

Speaking on Tuesday, the president’s spokesman, Harry Roque, dismissed the requirement for foreign intervention into the deaths during the nation’s war on drugs. 

“We do not need foreigners to investigate killings in the drug war because the legal system is working in the Philippines,” Roque stated. He claimed that the ICC launching a probe into the killings would be “legally erroneous” and was “politically motivated.”

Roque stated that they would not participate as they are no longer members of the ICC, after President Duterte tore up their membership in 2018 after the Netherlands-based court opened an inquiry into crimes against humanity committed during the leader’s crackdown on narcotics.

On Monday, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that a preliminary investigation into the killings has concluded and that a full-scale probe would now be launched. 

Bensouda said there is a “reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder has been committed” between July 1, 2016 – a day into Duterte’s presidency – and March 16, 2019, the day after the Philippines officially left the ICC.

From the start of his presidency, the Philippines strongman leader has led an iron-fisted campaign on drugs, once famously telling his security forces, “If it’s drugs, you shoot and kill.” 

Estimates of the death toll from Duterte’s war on drugs vary greatly. Local news site Rappler claims the police alone had killed 7,884 alleged suspects up to September last year, while some human rights groups have suggested it is as high as 27,000.

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