Lawyers’ group seeks protection for families of alleged drug war victims

A LAWYERS’ group on Thursday said they will file further complaints against President Rodrigo R. Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC) if family members of alleged drug war victims are attacked.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said in a news release that it “will file corresponding charges in the ICC against Pres. Duterte for any attack against families of the victims and their witnesses” who will be participating in the international tribunal’s probe on alleged human rights violations in the government’s anti-drug campaign.

NUPL called on the President to make a commitment to ensure the safety of the families.

“We demand that Pres. Duterte assure the security of the families of the victims and their witnesses so that they can participate in the ICC process which can no longer be stopped by Pres. Duterte,” the group said.

The Philippine Supreme Court has dismissed the petitions against Mr. Duterte’s withdrawal from the ICC, but it ruled that the government must still cooperate with the ICC’s investigation.

This High Court decision, NUPL said, means that Mr. Duterte “cannot threaten the ICC Prosecutor and prohibit their entry into the Philippines” as that will violate the government’s earlier obligation under the Roman Statute treaty which created the ICC.

NUPL noted that Mr. Duterte’s claim of immunity from suit as president means that “victims of his heinous crimes against humanity cannot have any judicial recourse under Philippine laws.”

As such, the group urged the victims’ families and witnesses to participate and support the ICC’s probe by submitting their positions through the tribunal’s website. — Bianca Angelica D. Anago