Philippines’ Duterte publicly names 46 officials under drug investigation

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has publicly named 46 government officials, including three congressmen, he said are involved in illegal drugs, and added that criminal investigations against them are underway. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
Updated 15 March 2019

Philippines’ Duterte publicly names 46 officials under drug investigation

  • Many of the officials, including 33 mayors, eight vice mayors and three members of the House of Representatives, are running in midterm elections in May
  • Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs has left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead

MANILA, Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday publicly named 46 government officials, including three congressmen, he said are involved in illegal drugs, and added that criminal investigations against them are underway.
Although critics have warned him against making such public announcements without solid evidence, Duterte said in a peace and order meeting shown on nationwide TV that he trusted the government agencies that provided the information.
“My decision to unmask these drug personalities was anchored on my trust in the government agencies who had vetted and validated the narco list,” Duterte said. He said the Department of Interior and Local Government has filed administrative complaints against the politicians.
The government’s Anti-Money Laundering Council and a presidential anti-corruption commission are both investigating the officials to build criminal cases against them, Duterte said. Many of the officials, including 33 mayors, eight vice mayors and three members of the House of Representatives, are running in midterm elections in May.
Duterte said he did not aim to undermine the politicians ahead of the May 13 elections but decided to identify them after their involvement in the drug trade was validated by authorities.
The officials named by Duterte did not immediately respond. Duterte said other officials were also involved but that he had decided not to name them until their complicity is ascertained.
“Those which have already been filed have somewhat been validated,” he said.
Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs has left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead and has alarmed Western governments and human rights groups.
The drug killings have sparked two complaints of mass murder to the International Criminal Court. A prosecutor there is looking into the complaints and is expected to announce soon whether to elevate the inquiry into an investigation.
Duterte took steps last year to withdraw the Philippines from the international court, an action that would take effect on March 17. He has often lashed out at the court and the prosecutor examining the allegations against him, saying the court will never acquire jurisdiction over him and threatening the prosecutor with arrest if she travels to the Philippines.

 


Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

Updated 10 December 2019

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

  • International Court of Justice seeks to address atrocities committed by Myanmar

DHAKA: Several members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar expressed optimism on Monday that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would rule in their favor once it began its three-day hearing against Myanmar on Tuesday.

The case was filed by Gambia on behalf of all Muslim nations from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with the ICJ over the alleged persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar military.

On Nov. 18, the court decided to hold the hearings from Dec.10 to 12. Gambia’s justice minister will lead his country during the hearings.

Both Canada and Bangladesh have been supporting Gambia by providing different data and information regarding the atrocities against the Rohingya.

Myanmar’s state councillor and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has already reached  the Netherlands to lead the defense lawyers on behalf of her country at the ICJ.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will remain present at the courtroom to witness the process.

He will lead a 20-member team, comprising government officials and civil society representatives.

Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar are highly optimistic of securing justice at the ICJ.

“We think justice will be ensured because all international human rights groups, different UN organizations and the international community have got evidence of the persecution on the Rohingya. All of them have visited the refugee camps many times and listened to the plight of the Rohingya,” Sawyed Ullah, a community leader from Jamtoli, told Arab News.

“Also, we have strong evidences of atrocities committed by the Myanmar government to root out the Rohingya from their birth place, Rakhine,” Ullah added.

“Without ensuring accountability, there will not be any safety and justice in Rakhine. Once the accountability is restored,  all of us will be able to go back home.”

Ramjan Ali, another refugee from the Kutupalang camp, said: “Myanmar’s government has forcibly displaced the Rohingya from their own land and that compelled us to shelter here at the refugee camps. Isn’t it enough evidence to justify our allegations against the Myanmar government?”

Ramjan Ali added: “Still the situation in Rakhine is very bad as we receive information from our relatives over there. We need protection from the international forces before any repatriation, and the ICJ’s decision will be helpful for us in this regard.”

Rohingya human rights activist Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the German-based Free Rohingya Coalition described the ICJ’s move as historic.

“It is first ever since we are persecuted. We have been seeking for justice since very long time,” Lwin told Arab News, adding that “finally the case is now at the world court and although it will take several years we are now excited for provisional measures from the court.”

Lwin, along with some 200 Rohingya rights activists from around the world, is set to hold a protest rally at the Hague from Dec. 11 during the ICJ’s hearing.

“We are expecting very much from the ICJ. Regardless whether Myanmar follows the decisions of the court this will have a huge impact. There won’t be any other justice mechanisms if this international court of justice can’t ensure the justice for us,” added Lwin.

Expressing his frustration on the repatriation process, Lwin said that the Myanmar government still had a “genocidal policy” on the Rohingya.

“I don’t think repatriation of the Rohingya will take place soon unless the government is considering to fulfill our demands,” he said.

The ICJ’s final decision will hold strong significance as any decisions taken by the ICJ are binding on member states.

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories of the Genocide Convention.