Crime & Justice

Philippines slams ICC probe request into Duterte’s war on drugs

Bangkok, June 15 (EFE).- The Philippine government Tuesday slammed the request by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for a probe into drug war killings in the country.

In a statement, the Philippine foreign ministry described the ICC as a “court of (the) last resort,”, saying investigations launched in the country by a justice ministry committee must be allowed to conclude first.

“The Rome Statute requires the Court and the Office of the Prosecutor to respect and defer to the primary criminal jurisdiction of concerned State Party, while proceedings are ongoing in the latter,” the ministry said.

“The precipitate move of the prosecutor is a blatant violation of the principle of complementarity, which is a bedrock principle of the Rome Statute,” which established the ICC, the ministry added.

On Monday, ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested for a probe into crimes against humanity allegedly committed during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs.

In a statement, the prosecutor said that “the available information indicates that members of the Philippine National Police, and others acting in concert with them, have unlawfully killed between several thousand and tens of thousands of civilians during that time.”

The 57-page request for an investigation into the situation in the Philippines says that “extrajudicial killings, perpetrated across the Philippines, appear to have been committed pursuant to an official State policy of the Philippine government.”

The request must now be reviewed by the pre-trial chamber of ICC, composed of three judges, who could take weeks or months to authorize or reject the proposal.

Having defended the killing of those who take or deal in drugs, Duterte withdrew from the ICC in March 2018.

The declaration to withdraw, which became effective in March 2019, came a month after ICC prosecutors opened a preliminary examination into possible crimes against humanity in the anti-drug drive.

However, the decision has not slowed down the process at the ICC.

Organizations like Karapatan, the largest network of human rights organizations in the Philippines, Amnesty International (AI), and Human Rights Watch have welcomed the request.

“The intervention must end this cycle of impunity,” Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International Secretary-General, said in a statement.

It must “send a signal to the police and those with links to the police who continue to carry out or sanction these killings that they cannot escape being held accountable for the crimes they commit,” Callamard said.

Callamard described the ICC announcement as “a moment of hope for thousands of families in the Philippines who are grieving those lost to the so-called war on drugs.”

The Philippine police admit that the war on drugs has claimed the lives of some 8,000 suspects since 2016.

However, human rights groups say the authorities have killed 30,000 people, taking advantage of the climate of impunity for the drive. EFE


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