Drug war victims' relatives seek Duterte's arrest in complaint before ICC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 28) — The families of alleged victims of extrajudicial killings filed a complaint Tuesday before the International Criminal Court (ICC), seeking the arrest of President Rodrigo Duterte for his administration's deadly war on drugs.

Six complainants, along with rights advocacy group Rise Up for Life and for Rights, filed the communication and complaint charging Duterte with murder and inhumane acts.

They said Duterte's publicly announced policies against drug suspects as well as police anti-drug operations Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel went against the Rome Statute, the treaty which established the ICC.

"The extra-judicial killings, mass arrests, and other inhumane acts committed by and under President Duterte, whether 4,410 killed as claimed by the Philippine government or 23,000 as claimed by human rights and media groups, the mass murder and rights violations are so grievous and so heinous that is of sufficient gravity to justify further action of the Court," the complaint read.

It added that the petitioners went directly to the international court since Philippine law exempts presidents from suit. They also sought protection and reparation for the victims, lawyers, and witnesses while the case is still ongoing.

The complaint added Duterte's move to withdraw from the ICC is inconsequential under the Rome Statute.

The Philippines remains a party to the Statute, despite Duterte announcing the country's withdrawal from the international court in March. Article 127 of the Rome Statute states that "the withdrawal shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of the notification, unless the notification specifies a later date."

"It is our hope, that with the Court taking jurisdiction of herein Complaint, it may force President Duterte to reexamine, if not abandon, his distorted notion of mass murder to solve the country's drug and crime problem," the complainants added.

Malacañang remained unfazed with the complaint.

"My fearless prediction is that it will not prosper," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, citing the complementarity principle of the court will prevail.

The ICC functions as "a court of last resort" under the Rome Statute. It seeks to complement, not replace, national courts.

This is the second communication to be filed before the international court. The first came from Atty. Jude Sabio, a lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato. His communication sought ICC intervention in the country's war on drugs through a preliminary investigation.

READ: Lawyer asks international court to look into 'mass murder' in PH

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.