ICC probe on drug war continues as PH gov’t appeal junked

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Appeals Chamber rejected the bid of the Philippine government to block the resumption of the investigation into the bloody drug war during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte. 

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Appeals Chamber rejected the bid of the Philippine government to block the resumption of the investigation into the bloody drug war during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte. 

“I would like to state that it is rejected by the appeals chamber by majority, and that the impugned decision is therefore confirmed,” said ICC Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut last July 18 in the Netherlands referring to the government’s plea to stop the investigation.

Three out of five judges decided to junk the appeal while Presiding Judge de Brichambaut of France and Judge Gocha Lordkipanidze of Georgia dissented.

“The pre-trial chamber correctly assessed whether there exists an advancing process of domestic investigations within the situation which sufficiently mirrors that of the prosecutor,” said Judge de Brichambaut.

“Taking into account the stage of the situation as well as the specific circumstances and parameters of the Philippines situation. Therefore, the majority finds that the pre-trial chamber did not err in law,” he added.

On the question of jurisdiction, the Appeals Chamber said the impact of the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statue in March 2019 “was neither properly raised nor ventilated before the pre-trial chamber.”

It was also not convinced with Manila’s claim that the Pre-Trial chamber had no actual assessment to prove the government was not making genuine efforts to launch its own probe.

Previous ICC decisions

The ICC’s Pre-trial Chamber authorized the start of the investigation into the Duterte administration’s controversial anti-illegal drugs campaign in September 2021.

The probe was temporarily suspended later that year following a request from Manila. In January 2023, the Pre-Trial Chamber authorized the prosecution to resume its investigation. 

The Philippine government, under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., filed a Notice of Appeal seeking to reverse the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision in February this year. 

Over 6,000 died during Duterte’s war on drugs based on official government data, but human rights groups estimate between 12,000 and 30,000 were allegedly killed.

PH ‘done’ dealing with ICC

Following the permanent court’s latest decision, President Marcos said the Philippines “will not cooperate with them in any way, shape or form” to supposedly protect the country’s sovereignty.

“That’s it. We have no appeals pending. We have no more actions being taken. So, I suppose that puts an end to our dealings with the ICC,” said Marcos in a chance interview.

ICC Assistant to Counsel Kristina Conti Kristina Conti lambasted the President’s remarks saying the government’s disengagement from the international body shows “weakness, duplicity, and insult” to the drug war victims.

“We think that a complete disengagement with the ICC signifies on one hand, that the Marcos government is afraid of the ICC uncovering systematic, programmatic killings and on the other, that it is merely posturing for political convenience in the international arena,” Conti said in a statement.

 Thumbnail photo made via Canva

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