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.”


Thai court grants bail to detained pro-democracy activists

Police have charged each activist with several offenses, including violating a ban on political assembly and obstructing officials. (AP)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Thai court grants bail to detained pro-democracy activists

  • The activists were arrested Tuesday at a protest marking the anniversary of a 2014 military coup and calling for elections this year

BANGKOK: A court in Thailand granted bail Thursday to 15 pro-democracy activists who were arrested earlier this week during a protest against military rule at which several thousand police were deployed.
Krisadang Nutjaras, a lawyer for the student activists, told reporters they applied for bail after the court agreed to a police request for a further 12 days’ detention. It was set at 100,000 baht ($3,100) for each person, he said.
Police have charged each activist with several offenses, including violating a ban on political assembly and obstructing officials. They are required to report back to authorities in eight days and their bail is conditional on not participating in illegal political demonstrations.
The activists, who were arrested Tuesday at a protest marking the anniversary of a 2014 military coup and calling for elections this year, were applauded by supporters as they walked out of the Bangkok Criminal Court complex.
“Only barbaric countries say elections are illegal,” a 25-year-old protest leader, Rangsiman Rome, said outside the court. “Thank you everyone for coming. Today will not be the last day for our fight.”
Documents that police submitted to the court argued that bail should be denied because of the seriousness of the offenses. They also said they needed more time to complete their investigation.
Krisadang accused police of filing “excessive charges” against the protesters. He also criticized the court for refusing to hear counterarguments when it considered the request for detention to be extended.
“We never got a chance to present our reasoning to show the court that the kids are people who love democracy,” he said. “If in our country people use their rights to ask for democracy and get arrested and deemed traitors that cause havoc, there is not much hope left.”
Tuesday’s protest drew about 200 demonstrators but was met with an overwhelming security response. More than 3,000 officers were deployed to prevent the activists from marching from a Bangkok university campus to Government House.
The protesters, mainly middle-aged and elderly people led by a core of student activists, have been holding regular rallies for the last few months, calling for the junta to resign. Political gatherings of five or more people are banned by the military government.