Karapatan: Persecution vs rights advocates already worsening, set to intensify after PH leaves ICC

Lawyer Jude Sabio, legal counsel of self-confessed member of the Davao Death Squad Edgar Matobato, recently expressed his fear of persecution against him and other human rights defenders, particularly those who have filed complaints at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The country’s withdrawal of its ratification of the Rome Statute takes effect on March 17, 2019. 

“The country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, which becomes effective this year, may indeed signal another wave of intensified attacks targeted against human rights defenders. It seems that after more than two years of this sham drug war, Duterte is still very much insistent to continue his mad slaughter of poor Filipinos and denial of their basic rights to due process. Atty. Sabio is correct to be cautious. Activists and rights advocates who have sought to expose state-perpetrated violations in line with Duterte’s counterinsurgency program and with its war on drugs have been under increased threats, and even killings. With a vindictive government, all should be wary against Duterte’s act of severe reprisals,” said Karapatan deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor.

In March 2018, the Duterte government withdrew from the Rome Statute, which created the ICC. The ICC, however, can still pursue investigations against the Duterte government even after the PH withdrew its membership. Duterte is being tried in the ICC for extrajudicial killings perpetrated by alleged death squads, particularly those in line with its war on drugs campaign.

“Duterte’s double-talk with regard to the ICC is an indication of how this government deals with measures and initiatives to investigate crimes and exact accountability from perpetrators. Duterte previously denied ordering extrajudicial killings, only to admit to it in several live telecast. He has also expressed willingness to subject himself to investigation under the ICC, but withdrew the country from the Rome Statute. This government has denied perpetrating human rights violations while persecuting human rights advocates and silencing the voices of victims and their kin who counter the State’s repeated denials,” explained Clamor.

He reiterated that the “Duterte government is run by pathological liars and militarists who are corrupt to the core, able to subvert laws and mechanisms to evade accountability. The Duterte government is a serial hypocrite who has been accustomed to the art of double-talk. This is exemplified by the government’s mouthing of sovereignty when it comes to investigations of rights violations, but subservience when dealing with anomalous Chinese deals and China’s defiance of the UN ruling with regard to the West Philippine Sea.”

“Duterte and its militarist crew are crafting ways to evade justice, all while putting on a façade that they care a speck about human rights. Instead of addressing the issues with its anti-people campaigns and committing to resolve the socio-economic roots of poverty and criminality, the country is being subjected to more repressive legislation such as the death penalty and the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility. We have expressed our support to the ICC investigation against Duterte’s death squads and the war on drugs, and we encourage all other advocates to explore all other platforms to exact accountability and justice,” concluded Clamor.

Reference: Roneo Clamor, Deputy Secretary General, +639997721233 

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580