THE International Criminal Court is set to resume the investigation on the alleged killings during the bloody drug war in the Philippines under former President Rodrigo Duterte.
The ICC said the Philippine government failed to convince the Pre-Trial Chamber that it wasinvestigating the alleged pattern of killing crime suspects at the height of the implementation of the anti-drug campaign.
In a nutshell, these are the highlights of the ICC 53-page resolution released Friday, January 27:
- The Philippine government failed to show enough proof that it is thorough in its own investigation on the extrajudicial killings (EJKs).
- Manila merely showed that only low-ranking policemen faced prosecution.
Scope of the ICC probe
- Allegation: So-called “crimes against humanity” were committed in the context of the “war on drugs”
- Covering Period: November 1, 2011-March 2019
- In Davao: November 1, 2011-June 2016
- Entire Philippines: June 30, 2016-March 2019
- Families of criminals who died in Davao region
- Families of drug offenders who died during the first two years of the Duterte administration’s campaign against drugs
Why the ICC probe matters
The ICC is the court of last resort for victims of injustices perpetrated by military, police or other state actors, including heads of state.
- The ICC mandate is not to replace the role of national courts, but it can “complement” their investigation.
- The aim is to join the global fight to end impunity and help prevent these crimes from happening again. The world should no longer see another Holocaust or ethnic cleansing, or endure evil dictators like Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein.
- The Philippines was one of the proponents of its creation in 2011, having experienced a bitter history of killings during military rule under then President Ferdinand Marcos.
- But in 2018, Manila withdrew from the Rome Statute after families of EJK victims filed a suit before the ICC. The UN court insisted it still has jurisdiction to look into the allegations as the incidents occurred when the Philippines was still a member of ICC.
If the ICC investigation concludes there is enough evidence to show that the killings were ordered by the state, Philippine officials including former President Duterte will be prosecuted before the UN court.
What the Ph govt says
Under the leadership of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the Philippine government asked the ICC to stop investigating the extrajudicial killings.
It said the tribunal lacks jurisdiction as the murders are not considered “crimes against humanity.”
- The state or any government agency has no policy to kill criminals during the “intensified and comprehensive campaign against illegal drugs.”
- The National Bureau of Investigation of the Philippines has been investigating the alleged killings.
- 168 murder cases in Davao were filed before the courts.
- 2 Senate inquiries on the Davao death squad were conducted.
- 52 ‘nanlaban’ incidents were investigated; 35 were filed in court, 17 were closed due to lack of evidence.
- The ICC will only “mirror” the scope of investigation being done by the Philippine government.
The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber – the equivalent of the Department of Justice – reviewed the appeal.
What the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber says
The Chamber is “not satisfied” that the Philippine government is undertaking “relevant investigations” that would warrant a deferral of the ICC investigation.
Thus, the ICC investigation will not mirror what the Philippine government has been doing, the Chamber insisted.
“Various domestic initiatives and proceedings, assessed collectively, do not amount to tangible, concrete and progressive investigative steps in a way that would sufficiently mirror the Court’s investigation.
“This conclusion does not preclude the Philippines from providing material in the future in order for the Prosecution, or the Chamber, to determine inadmissibility of the investigation or of any actual case, if and when needed,” the ICC said in a statement.
Read the public redacted decision below:
file photo: facade of ICC headquarters in The Hague, The Netherlands © 2018 Marina Riera/Human Rights Watch