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Philippines senator calls for international criminal investigation against President Duterte

Philippine Senator Leila de Lima gestures during a Reuters interview at the Senate building in Pasay city, metro Manila, Philippines August 29, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

London [UK]: A Philippines’ Senate member has called for an international criminal investigation against President Rodrigo Duterte in an effort to stop a vicious war on drugs that has killed more than 3,800 people since June.

Senator Leila de Lima, a human rights advocate and former justice secretary, said that foreign intervention was the only hope of putting an end to “state-inspired” extrajudicial murders that have terrorised parts of the population since Duterte came to power four months ago, Reports the Guardian.

De Lima urged world leaders to consider sanctions and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague to launch an investigation into Duterte and those who worked for him.

“It [ICC] should start to think about investigating already or doing an inquiry into the killings as crimes against humanity,” she said.

The senator fears for her own life after she was ousted last month as chair of an inquiry looking into the vigilante death squads targeting drug dealers and users, and her address and mobile number were made public.

Duterte, who swept to power in May on a mandate to enforce zero tolerance on drugs-related crime had said in a speech that he would “be happy to slaughter” three million Filipino drug users and peddlers, and has publicly urged citizens to “go ahead and kill” addicts and dealers.

About 1,500 of the dead have been killed in police operations, but most were murdered by unidentified assassins, leading to accusations that Duterte has allowed a state of lawlessness where criminals can settle vendettas with impunity.

Meanwhile Duterte has described innocent and child victims of the bloodbath as “collateral damage”.

Senator De Lima in August, as head of the senate justice committee, she launched hearings to investigate the surge in killings by vigilante gangs.

De Lima has since been accused of corruption and links to drug lords.

Duterte’s war on drugs has already been condemned by the United Nations, European Union and the United States. (ANI)