Philippines president’s ‘drug war’ no war crime, says ICC

Image copyright AFP Image caption Duterte has endured heavy criticism for his brutal war on drugs, and is facing new challenges

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has suspended his investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly “war on drugs”.

War crime allegations against Mr Duterte and his aides were made in August.

Mr Duterte has maintained that he has no personal involvement in the killings and he is relieved of all responsibility.

The prosecutor found “unfair balance in the evidence” and, in a statement, stressed the duty of the ICC not to investigate “personal fault”.

‘War on drugs’

Mr Duterte took office in July 2016 and embarked on a death toll-based “war on drugs” that is widely criticised in the international community.

He has overseen thousands of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers.

Images of bodies dumped in the streets of Manila, including that of a child, have been aired widely.

Mr Duterte has staunchly defended the operation in interviews and in speeches, describing it as proof that it is working.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda launched an investigation into Mr Duterte in August and a separate probe into the body count allegations in September.

The prosecutor found “unfair balance in the evidence” and in a statement stressed the ICC does not “investigate alleged criminal liability or personal fault”.

A spokesperson for the ICC said “no further analysis of this case is foreseen”.

Photo: AFP

Mr Duterte’s presidency has coincided with repeated threats by regional powers to pull out of the ICC.

US President Donald Trump and Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte have met in the White House.

The Philippines withdrew from the ICC’s predecessor, the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), in 1998.

More than 20 lawmakers in the country have also recently asked Mr Duterte to have a one-on-one meeting with Mr Trump and another request for him to visit the US, which President Trump has so far declined.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has offered to mediate between the two governments.

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