Tribunal Declares Trump and Duterte Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity

March 15, 2019
Posted in Blog
March 15, 2019 Editor
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Tribunal Declares Trump and Duterte Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity

By Marjorie Cohn, Truthout

Published March 14, 2019

photo above: President Donald Trump toasts with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte during a special gala celebration dinner for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila on November 12, 2017. Athit Perawongmetha / AFP / Getty Images

WN: The article highlighted below describes a continuing horror story… Lord, have mercy.

Then, I must confess that this article makes me hopping furious for another reason! I’m livid about the majority of White Evangelicals in the United States who significantly helped put a War Criminal into the White House — and keep him there! And I’m mad about my brother whom I love, who never falters in his rigid obsession with Trump — allowing everything disgusting/hateful (Is there much else?) about Trump in fact run off his brain like proverbial water off a duck’s back.

After all: what do those fact checkers know about Liar-In-Chief Trump? Who’s checking them?[1]

And what do those prosecutors know about Slime-Ball-In-Chief Trump (who gives a criminogenic run for the money — “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby!” (Ilhan Omar) — compared to any “Mexican rapist and drug dealer”)?[2]

And what does the Tribunal know (held in Brussels, Belgium, on September 18 and 19, 2018) about war crimes committed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, aided and abetted by Trump. Convenors of the Tribunal included the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, IBON International, and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines. A panel of eight jurors from Egypt, France, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands and the United States adjudicated.

Just what do they know? Well, please read on for the details of what was already revealed in the headline…

Now as to those American White Evangelicals and my brother: maybe if they opened their minds, ears and eyes even the tiniest bit, they might learn a thing or two… And maybe if they really read the Gospels ever so slightly, they might see the Light. One can always hope.

Much however of this website declares that war crimes are not unique to the Trump Administration. For since before inception even, the United States has exercised imperial reach invariably at the expense (lives, land and resources) of those they brutally dominated and displaced. Myriad articles attest to that. The website is indeed dedicated to the Gospel as Counter-Narrative to Empire, the United States being the latest, the most brutal, and the-farthest-reach iteration of such. Please see my HOME page for much more.

Finally, one wonders whether Canada would dare step up to the plate and try Trump, and much of his Administration, for war crimes, in light of this quote:

Any country can try a foreign national for war crimes and crimes against humanity when the suspect’s home country is unable or unwilling to prosecute…

First the United States’ War Criminals, then Israel’s… Now that would be something to do Canada proud!


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his government committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, aided and abetted by U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration, according to a recent ruling from the International Peoples’ Tribunal on the Philippines.

Much of this tyranny, brutality and corruption has been endorsed, whether implicitly or explicitly, by the United States. The unholy alliance between the Philippine and U.S. governments is long-standing. For the past 18 years, under Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump, the United States has continued to provide assistance to the Philippine government, which enables it to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity against its own people and deny them their legal right to self-determination.

After the 9/11 attacks, Bush declared the Philippines a second front in the war on terror, calling it “Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines.” The Philippine government used Bush’s campaign as an opportunity to escalate its vicious counterinsurgency program against Muslims and individuals and organizations that oppose its policies.

The Philippine government labels specific people and groups as “terrorists,” which makes them targets of the regime. The government also engages in “red tagging“ — political vilification. These labels can lead to harassment, assault, detention, torture and even murder. Targets are frequently human rights activists and advocates, political opponents, community organizers or groups struggling for national liberation.

Indeed, attorney Benjamin Ramos, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, was assassinated on November 6, 2018, two months after the tribunal proceedings. “Atty. Ramos was a leading human rights lawyer in Negros, who passionately advocated for genuine agrarian reform and peasant rights,” the NUPL said in a statement. Ramos was the 34th lawyer killed by the Duterte regime. Two more have been killed since.

The tribunal found Defendants Rodrigo Duterte and his regime, and Donald Trump and his administration guilty of gross and systematic violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights; and the rights of the people to national self-determination and development.

Liability for the Trump administration was based on its role as accomplice to Duterte’s crimes. The Rome Statute of the ICC includes aiding and abetting liability for war crimes. An individual can be convicted of a war crime in the ICC if he or she “aids, abets or otherwise assists” in the commission or attempted commission of the crime. This includes “providing the means for its commission.” The U.S. government supplied the Duterte regime with $175 million in foreign military financing in 2017 and 2018, and $111 million in 2019.

After considering this evidence, the tribunal found violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Geneva Conventions; Nuremberg Tribunal; International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Murder, torture and cruel treatment constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute and the Geneva Conventions.

Murder or torture committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack, constitute crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute.

“The Tribunal has finally rendered its historical and comprehensive decision,” Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) in the Philippines, who also served as clerk of the tribunal, told Truthout in an email. “It is extensive in its presentation of the facts and evidence” and contains “an incisive elaboration of the nexus between the acts and omissions of Defendants and their accountability under a plethora of international instruments.”

Olalia added that the decision “sends out a message loud and clear: a people continually victimized by authoritarian and repressive governments and exploitative entities will seek justice wherever they can before those who are willing to give them a fighting chance.” Finally, Olalia said, “the decision remains ever more relevant to this day and time when the Filipinos are still struggling to ride out the storm of tyranny, brutality, corruption, misogyny and repression.”

Duterte is responsible for the crimes of his administration under the doctrine of Command Responsibility. Commanders are criminally liable for murders and other crimes committed by their subordinates if they knew or should have known they would be committed and they did nothing to stop or prevent it.

Violations of Civil and Political Rights

The tribunal found the Duterte regime responsible for “mass murder, gross violations of the right to due process, unabated killings, attacks, terrorist-tagging and criminalisation of human rights defenders and political dissenters, muzzling of the right to free expression, impunity to the hilt, general situation of unpeace, and the utter contempt for human rights.”

Duterte is perpetrating a ruthless “war on drugs,” which has taken the form of a violent war on suspected drug users. Most victims of the drug war are poor people from the slums. A police memo ordered that suspected drug users be “neutralized” or killed. The government admits to killing at least 4,410 people suspected of drug use as of July 31, 2018. Independent sources put the number at 23,000. The police claim that they acted in self-defense.

U.S. military aid to the Philippine government facilitates its crimes against humanity against its own people.

But, tribunal prosecutor Neri Colmenares, the chairperson of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, argued, “direct evidence including eyewitness’s accounts, CCTV and others show that the police, themselves, killed the victims [who were] not fighting back. They have been killing the victims while the victims were kneeling and pleading for their lives.”

Many lawyers are afraid to defend drug suspects for fear they might be killed. Since Duterte took office on July 1, 2016, the regime has illegally killed 10 prosecutors, 21 lawyers, three judges, and 13 journalists.

“The extra-judicial killings have also intensified against human rights defenders and the progressive sections of Philippine civil society who have criticized the current undemocratic and anti-people policies and systems,” the tribunal wrote. “As of June 2018, 169 leaders of the progressive movement have been victims of extrajudicial-killings (EJKs and an additional 509 political prisoners are illegally jailed, subjected to trumped-up criminal charges and planted evidence.”

Duterte is unapologetic. On September 27, 2018, he publicly admitted, “My only sin is the extrajudicial killings.” Extrajudicial means outside the law.

Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court wrote in an October 2016 statement about the situation in the Philippines that extra-judicial killings may fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC “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.” That is the definition of a crime against humanity.

Other defendants included the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, and transnational corporations and foreign banks doing business in the Philippines.

Witnesses testified at the tribunal that suspects and prisoners endure physical and psychological torture. Janry Mensis, a miner in Mindanao, testified via video. He described how he and his brother were arrested, detained and tortured. They were tied and detained inside an ambulance for nine days. Then they were hogtied and their mouths covered with packing tape. The soldiers then strangled them. When the brothers pretended to be unconscious, they were thrown into a pit with wood and oil and set afire. They dragged themselves out of the pit after the soldiers left them for dead. They both suffered third-degree burns and other injuries from the torture.

Duterte declared Martial Law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017, purportedly in response to an invasion in one city by an alleged ISIS-inspired group (ISIS is also known as Daesh). His government has used the Martial Law to conduct illegal arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, forced displacement and arbitrary deprivation of property, destruction of mosques and schools, and arbitrary denial of humanitarian aid to civilians caught in the crossfire.

After considering this evidence, the tribunal found violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Geneva Conventions; Nuremberg Tribunal; International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Murder, torture and cruel treatment constitute war crimes under the Rome Statute and the Geneva Conventions.

Murder or torture committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack, constitute crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute.

Violations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Philippine and U.S. governments were not the only entities on trial at the tribunal. Other defendants included the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and transnational corporations and foreign banks doing business in the Philippines.

The tribunal found violations of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Convention Concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize; Convention on the Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively; Algiers Declaration; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; and International Convention on Protections of Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families.

The tribunal explained how the U.S. bases in the Philippines facilitate Duterte’s counterinsurgency program: “US presence and the permanent and expanded basing of US troops are further emboldening the Defendant Duterte government in implementing the counterinsurgency OplaN Kapayapaan patterned after the 2009 US Counterinsurgency Guide and financed by Defendant US government.”

U.S. government assistance to the Duterte government includes the provision of “intelligence, funding, orientation, training and arms to promote and pursue its economic and geopolitical interests in the region.”

The tribunal adopted my testimony as follows: “US military aid to the Philippine government facilitates its commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity against its own people. Like Philippine leaders, US political and military leaders could be liable in the International Criminal Court as aiders and abettors of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

“Philippine and US political and military leaders do not enjoy impunity for their crimes. Achieving justice for the Filipino people is not just a matter for people in the Philippines. Americans and other people throughout the world have a responsibility to bring the criminals to justice,” the tribunal wrote, adopting my testimony. “The Filipino people continue their valiant struggle for national liberation and self-determination. Providing legal accountability for the crimes of Philippine and US officials will help to deter them from committing additional crimes.”

Even if the ICC does not ultimately investigate and prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by military and police officials of the Philippine government, other countries could bring the offenders to justice under the well-established principle of universal jurisdiction.

Any country can try a foreign national for war crimes and crimes against humanity when the suspect’s home country is unable or unwilling to prosecute, and Duterte has proved unwilling to prosecute those responsible for the heinous crimes against the Filipino people.

Please click on: Trump and Duterte Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity

  1. [1]See the fact checker at the Washington Post for the whopping tally of 9,014 falsehoods by Trump since taking office, until March 3, 2019.)
  2. [2]See for one instance this article from which I quote:

    (by Gustavo Arellano who is editor of OC Weekly, author of the syndicated column, ¡Ask a Mexican! and consulting producer on FOX’s upcoming cartoon, Bordertown.)

    Demonizing Mexicans as rapists is a time-honored tradition of American letters and politics. The idea that hombres are fundamentally devious perverts hell-bent on violating the honor of white and Mexican women alike is soldered on the American psyche—even though it’s based on goddamn lies.

    This canard gained national prominence recently when Donald Trump angered any American with a soul after saying, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” But his stereotyping of Mexicans as sexual predators wasn’t original. Ann Coulter boasted on Twitter “all that spicy stuff about Mexican rape culture came from” her giving Trump an advance copy of her book, ¡Adiós, America! And she wasn’t even the first unfunny blonde to trot out that tired line: in 2013, comedienne-of-the-moment Amy Schumer joked, “I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual.”

    The three were late to the raza rape game, though, one long led by members of the House of Representatives. In 2007, Dana Rohrabacher, the whack-job representative from Orange County who once supported the Taliban (you can look it up!), stated from the floor of Congress, “If you get raped or murdered or run over by a drunk in California in my area, it’s likely it’s been done by someone who should never have been there legally in the first place”—code for the Mexican immigrants who live in his district. The year before, Texas Congressman Ted Poe told his colleagues “illegals in this country contribute a vast over-percentage of violent crime and street crime, from theft to rape to murder.” That same year Iowa Congressman Steve King perversely celebrated Cinco de Mayo by writing in a newsletter that if undocumented immigrants weren’t in the U.S., “Eight American children [a day] would not suffer the horror as a victim of a sex crime.” Given those race-baiting comments, it’s no surprise that King recently came out in support of Trump, saying he “appreciates [his] scrappiness.”

    Latinos can—and better—rage at the cheap political points earned by sliming Mexicans with the rapist stereotype. And the best way to do it is with the truth: A 2011 U.S. Government Accountability Office study “Criminal Alien Statistics: Information on Incarcerations, Arrests and Costs” found that of the three million arrests of immigrants, legal or not, examined by investigators, only two percent were for sex offenses—two percent too many, but hardly an epidemic. It didn’t break down the ethnicity or legal status of the offenders, but the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey breaks down such stats by victims. For 2013 (the most recent year available), it shows that whites accounted for 71 percent of all sexual assaults documented (above their total percentage of 63 percent of the U.S. population), while Latinos accounted for 9 percent, far below their total percentage of 17 percent. And as a percentage of all “serious violent victimizations,” sexual assaults represent 11 percent of the violent crimes against Latinos. For gabachos[American Whites]? 18 percent. The BJS also noted that for the period from 2005-2010 about 66 percent of sexual assault victims knew their perp[etrator], and that whites had strangers commit violent victimizations against them at a rate of 9.2 per 1,000 people, compared to 9.8 per 1,000 for Latinos—so much for the notion of an army of faceless Mexicans stalking their fair-skinned prey.

    For those who don’t comprende: white American citizens are far more rape-y than Mexicans can ever hope to become. Yet the lies about hordes of Mexican rapists perpetuated by Trump, Coulter and Schumer and so many others persist because they’re just engaging in good ol’ American paranoia about purity and the perpetual menace south of the border.

    In Mexicans, Americans have a group of people on which to project their racial fears for the future. Congressman John C. Box said it best in 1930 when he told the House Immigration and Naturalization Committee, “No other alien race entering America provides an easier channel for the intermixture of blood than does the mongrel Mexican…their presence and intermarriage with both white and black races…create the most insidious and general mixture of white, Indian and negro blood strains ever produced in America.”

    As well: bar none, the United States throughout the Cold Ware has been the largest drug cartel in the world. Still active today? You decide — after considering the evidence in Footnote 4 of my HOME page.

    A friend challenged me on the above assertion. When I began to explain why, he changed the subject, saying he did not wish to hear… There are none so deaf as they who do not wish to hear. There are none so blind as they who do not wish to see… The Hebrew Prophets and Jesus put it slightly differently, but made repeatedly the same point.


Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

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