Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has reminded the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the Hague-based tribunal lacks jurisdiction in the Philippines, warning that its chief prosecutor would be arrested if she sets foot in the country.
Earlier, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had announced that she was launching a preliminary investigation into a complaint by a Filipino lawyer of suspected extrajudicial killings under President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, amounting to crimes against humanity.
In response to this, Duterte pulled the Philippines out of the ICC.
In a press conference on Friday, Duterte reiterated that the ICC lacked the legal “jurisdiction even to conduct a preliminary investigation” for alleged extrajudicial killings.
“What is your authority … you cannot exercise any proceedings here,” Duterte, who was a prosecutor for Davao City, said in comments aimed at the ICC official.
“You, Ms Fatou, don’t come here, because I will bar you. You cannot exercise any proceedings here without basis. That is illegal and I will arrest you.”
Duterte, 72, who enjoys high popularity in the Philippines, was elected in 2016 vowing to eradicate drugs in the country.
Since then, Philippine police say they have killed roughly 4,000 drug suspects who fought back during arrest. Rights groups claim the actual number is three times higher, accusing authorities of murder.
Duterte, who has fiercely defended his drug war as a battle to provide security for the nation’s 100 million people, has frequently urged authorities to be fearless in the war on drugs, promising to protect police from legal repercussions.