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ICC prosecutor closely following events in Philippines since 2016

ICC prosecutor closely following events in Philippines since 2016

Duterte has overseen a crackdown on narcotics that according to official figures has left almost 4,000 drug suspects dead at the hands of police, while rights groups claim the toll is around three times the numbers given by authorities.

Mr Duterte has since fired back at the court, encouraging it to investigate his actions and questioning if it had the jurisdiction to charge him. "Just the two of us in the room", Mr Duterte told a news conference, referring to Mrs Bensouda.

Worldwide criminal law prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that the examination will be conducted in order to determine whether the ICC has jurisdiction over the matter.

"I welcome you. If you want to find me guilty, go ahead. You better clear that up because I will withdraw from the ICC", he warned, echoing an earlier threat.

Duterte on Friday issued a veiled warning to ICC prosecutor Bensouda, telling her: "Do not go into that adventure". Find me guilty, of course.

The ICC's preliminary examination was triggered by the communication filed by Filipino lawyer Jude Sabio in April a year ago accusing Duterte and other government senior officials of committing crimes against humanity due to the war on drugs.

Activists have claimed the death toll is far higher than reported figures and have made accusations of a systematic cover-up, a claim the government and police forces deny. Police and the government dismiss that.

Roque added that the basis of the country's consent to become a member of the ICC was the principle of complementarity, which means that the court can only claim jurisdiction over cases of crimes against humanity if the State fails to investigate them.

"Our domestic courts are able and willing to prosecute these crimes", Roque said.

Roque's pronouncement comes after the ICC Office of the Prosecutor announced that it would begin preliminary examination on the crimes against humanity linked to the government's anti-illegal drug campaign.

"What is extrajudicial killing?" he said.

Two hit men have confessed in killing for Duterte when he was a city mayor.

However, Mr Duterte believes the ICC does not have jurisdiction in the Philippines because its accession to the Rome Statute was never announced in the country's official gazette, a legal requirement.

Duterte expressed frustration when speaking on extrajudicial killings during his campaign, claiming that the term could not be defined.

The president denies being behind extrajudicial killings, and has frequently lashed out at any foreign entity criticizing his drug war, be they the U.S. president, the European Union, the United Nations, or even the ICC itself.

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