ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announces decision on February 8, 2018 to look into Philippine situation. (ICC photo)
Global human rights icon calls Duterte’s action ‘nonsense’
By Ted Alcuitas
A world-renown human rights advocate has waded into the controversy on the ICC investigation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs.’
“Legally what Duterte says is nonsense,” says David Matas, an expert on human rights law who played a role in the drafting of the Rome Statute, the governing document of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“It is not up to an accused to determine the jurisdiction of a court which is trying him. It is not up to a person under investigation to determine the jurisdiction of the investigating authorities,” the Winnipeg-based Matas said in an email to philippinecanadiannews.com (PCN.com)
“One of the most basic principles of international law is pacta sunt servanda – treaties must be respected,” he adds.
Matas, who still practises immigration and human rights law from his Winnipeg office, is well known for his report on China’s harvesting of body parts from executed prisoners.
Withdraws from ICC
Duterte has been scrambling to mitigate the court’s decision to undertake a preliminary investigation, the latest of which is to “withdraw” from the ICC.
See also: https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=180208-otp-stat
Duterte’s response to the investigation ranged from outright dismissal of the prosecutor’s announcement to bragging that he will defend himself in court, to telling soldiers not to answer any questions if asked and just say: “The Commander-in-Chief says so.”
Or throwing ICC investigators to the sharks.
“Political tirades do not change the law,” admonished Matas.
“The Court operates according to the principle of complementarity and that means that if the Philippines will not prosecute for a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court, the Court will.”
In his latest book, the autobiography Why Did You Do That?, Matas writes that “bystanders allow tyranny and evil,” vowing never to be one himself.
He writes, “Do not ask why I have done something. Ask the inactive why they have done nothing.”
A telling message for Filipinos who stand idly by while Duterte continues his killing spree.
Duterte visits troops in Marawi City.