Shoot me, don’t jail me, Philippines’ Duterte tells Hague court prosecutor

About 4,000 Filipinos have been killed by police Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature campaign that has alarmed the international community. (Reuters)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Shoot me, don’t jail me, Philippines’ Duterte tells Hague court prosecutor

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday told the International Criminal Court (ICC) to go ahead and investigate him for crimes against humanity, and said he would prefer to face a firing squad than be jailed.
However, the firebrand leader notorious for his defiance of international pressure questioned whether the ICC had jurisdiction to indict him over the deaths of thousands of Filipinos in his war on drugs.
He denied ever giving an order to police to kill drug suspects.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Thursday the preliminary examination into Duterte’s campaign sought to establish whether it had the jurisdiction, and if crimes against humanity had been committed.
“I would ask for the rare privilege of talking to you. Just the two of us in the room,” Duterte said during a news conference, referring to Bensouda.
“I welcome you. If you want to find me guilty, go ahead. So be it. Find a country where they kill people with a firing squad and I’m ready.
“If you haul me into a rigmarole of trial and trial, no need. Go ahead and proceed in your investigation. Find me guilty, of course. You can do that.”
About 4,000 mostly urban poor Filipinos have been killed by police in Duterte’s signature campaign that has alarmed the international community.
Activists believe the death toll is far higher and accuse police or systematic cover-ups and executions. Police and the government dismiss that.
The examination is the first formal step the ICC prosecutor takes when considering whether a situation in a member state could eventually lead to charges. The process may take years.
Central to whether it proceeds is if the court has jurisdiction, since it can only prosecute crimes when a member state fails to do so.
Duterte’s legal counsel and his attorney general on Friday said several cases related to the anti-drugs crackdown were pending in courts and a Senate investigation had found no evidence of wrongdoing.
The ICC complaints came from a lawyer and two lawmakers and include the accounts of two self-confessed hit men who say they killed at Duterte’s behest when he was a city mayor, and public statements he made as president that they say amounted to ‘shoot-to-kill’ orders.
Duterte said it was doubtful the ICC had jurisdiction in the Philippines because its accession to the ICC’s Rome Statute in 2011 had never been announced in the country’s official gazette, as required to be considered lawful.
He also vented his anger at allegations of extrajudicial killings during his campaign, saying the term could not be defined.
“What is extrajudicial killing?” he said. “There is no provision for extrajudicial killing, it is not defined anywhere.”


Foreign media arrive for North Korea nuclear site closing

Updated 8 min 14 sec ago
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Foreign media arrive for North Korea nuclear site closing

  • Eight South Korean journalists were excluded because Pyongyang has cut off high-level contact with Seoul to protest an exercise with the US military
  • The exclusion, a sharp departure from the conciliatory mood between the Koreas since the South hosted the Olympics in February, deepens a standoff that began last week

WONSAN, North Korea: A small group of foreign journalists arrived in North Korea on Tuesday to cover the dismantling of the country’s nuclear test site later this week, but without South Korean media initially also scheduled to participate.
Pyongyang is allowing the limited access to the site to publicize its promise to halt underground tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles. It unilaterally announced that moratorium ahead of a summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.
The eight South Korean journalists were excluded because Pyongyang has cut off high-level contact with Seoul to protest an exercise with the US military. Amid growing concern over the success of the summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in was to meet with Trump in Washington later Tuesday.
The group that arrived by charter flight from Beijing is made up of media from the UK, Russia, China and the United States. The journalists, including an Associated Press Television crew, will stay at a hotel in this port city on North Korea’s east coast before traveling by train to the site, which is in the northeastern part of the country.
The dismantling ceremony is expected to be held in the coming days, depending on the weather.
The North’s decision to close the Punggye-ri nuclear test site has generally been seen as a welcome gesture by Kim Jong Un to set a positive tone ahead of his summit with Trump.
But it is mainly just a gesture.
The North has already conducted six underground tests at the site — including its most powerful ever, last September — and Kim told ruling party leaders last month that further testing is unnecessary.
North Korea could build a new site if it decides it needs more testing or could dismantle the tunnels into Punggye-ri’s Mount Mantap in a reversible manner. Details of what will actually happen at the site are sparse, but Pyongyang’s apparent plan to show the closure of the site to journalists, not international nuclear inspectors, has been raised as a matter of concern.
The North’s decision to exclude the South Korean media, however, was a more troubling sign of discord.
The South Koreans were expected to participate in the trip, but were left behind in Beijing after the North refused to grant them visas. The South’s Yonhap news agency reported the North refused to accept a list of the reporters on Monday, making it “technically hard’ for the South Korean media to join the event.
The exclusion, a sharp departure from the conciliatory mood between the Koreas since the South hosted the Olympics in February, deepens a standoff that began last week when Pyongyang signaled it would cut off all high-level talks with Seoul in response to the joint military exercises.
The North claimed the exercises involved US strategic nuclear assets — including nuclear-capable B-52 bombers — and violated the spirit of detente on the peninsula. Washington denies the bombers were part of the drills. That same day, Pyongyang also warned Kim might “reconsider” the US summit over hardline comments from Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton.
Bolton suggested the North must denuclearize before it can receive any reciprocal benefits from Washington. Pyongyang insists the precondition for denuclearization is for the US to end its “hostile policy.”