[Brussels, 18 September] “It takes very little to irk the President as mere mention of the words justice and accountability puts his entire government in the defensive. Sending his spokesperson who has reached “roque-bottom” after dropping any knowledge of human rights, justice, and accountability like hot pieces of potato to pursue his political ambitions, the Duterte regime is trying yet again to undermine the efforts of individuals and organizations, that of a global people’s court, to hold his government to account. The Duterte government can dismiss the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) all they want, but it will not stop us from speaking truth to power,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, in reaction to Malacanang Spokesperson Harry Roque’s recent statement on the IPT.
The IPT is currently in session in Brussels, Belgium to try various cases of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights violations perpetrated by the Duterte government. The IPT will hear the testimonies of complainants until September 19, 2018, after which its verdict will be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC), European Parliament, and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). According to the IPT’s convenors, summons were sent to the Duterte government last September 10, 2018.
The IPT is organized by the the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), IBON International, and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP).
Palabay asserted that there is an “overwhelming evidence of Duterte’s culpability.” She further stated: “We have testimonies of victims and their families. We have living, breathing proof of Duterte’s crimes – people who have lived through harrowing experiences of torture, political persecution, and families of those who were killed and disappeared. This government, on the other hand, only have their denials and oft-repeated labels of “Left propaganda”, “enemies of the State”, and whatnot. Back at you, spokesperson Roque – the Duterte government is a sham, ran by cowards and criminals intent on evading justice.”
Karapatan is among the complainants at the IPT, raising cases of extrajudicial killings in line with Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign and counterinsurgency program; killings and massacre of human rights defenders; illegal arrest, detention and trumped up charges against political dissenters and activists; torture; political persecution of rights defenders, including non-Filipino activists, and critics of the drug killings; forcible evacuation, bombings and other rights violations in Marawi and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao; and attacks on media people and press freedom.
“The IPT is a legitimate venue for redress and grievances. Its formation was brought about by the need to acknowledge rights violations that are ignored and treated with impunity in the country. With the thousands victimized by this regime through its anti-people policies, foremost its counterinsurgency drive and anti-narcotics campaign, the outcome should be a resounding guilty,” concluded Palabay.
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