Last month, an article started circulating on Facebook claiming that an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda remarked that there was no concrete evidence that could lead to President Rodrigo Duterte’s prosecution before the ICC.
The story was shared hundreds of times, with many netizens readily believing in it.
Some were even asking why Philippine mainstream media didn’t cover the news.
However, the story originated from the fake news site cnnnews-channel.com. The website’s name in itself was meant to make it look like a spoof of the established TV news channel, CNN, or fool people into thinking that it is somehow related to the legitimate CNN website.
According to cnnnews-channel.com story, dated March 19, 2017, Bensouda clarified that while the ICC is looking into the alleged crimes committed in the Philippines, there is no evidence connecting Duterte to the EJKs. The website added that she urged anyone with proof to present it at the ICC because merely talking and shouting about it in political forums will not help.
While the quotes attributed to Duterte saying that he is not intimidated by the ICC and he is determined to perform better as a government worker, it seems like the fake news site did deliver its goal of making up stories. Bensouda’s clarification is obviously fiction.
The communication to the ICC about Duterte and his alleged link to the EJKs in the country was only filed on April 24 by Jude Sabio, legal counsel of self-confessed Duterte’s hitman Edgar Matobato, but the cnnnews-channel.com story was published in March, less than a month ago. This means Bensouda’s alleged remarks about the ICC looking into the EJKs in the Philippines is clearly fake. How could they start investigating the cases when no complaint was even filed yet?
In fact, it also on April 24 that the office of Bensouda confirmed that it has indeed received the complaint filed by Sabio and will be reviewing it according to the guidelines set by the Rome Statute.
You might have heard of Bensouda’s name when stories were published about her in Philippine media about her issuing a warning about the cases of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the country in October 2016. The ICC prosecutor said that the Philippines is a party to the ICC, hence the EJK cases may fall under the international organization’s jurisdiction.
“Extra-judicial killings may fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court if they are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population pursuant to a State policy to commit such an attack,” she said in a statement issued in The Hague.
“Let me be clear: any person in the Philippines who incites or engages in acts of mass violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing, in any other manner, to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution before the Court,” she added.
So, the March article about Bensouda clarifying that no proof that could warrant Duterte’s ICC prosecution is fake! What’s true is that Bensouda’s office is now reviewing the recently filed complaint against Duterte.
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