‘No crimes against humanity’: Philippines says no to ICC probe into ‘war on drugs’

Philippines on Thursday formally submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague that it does not want any probe into Manila’s infamous “war on drug.”

Menardo Guevarra, the archipelago country’s top lawyer, asked the ICC to deny request of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) to resume probe into the “war on drug” launched during administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Duterte administration has been accused of violating human rights during the so-called “war on drugs” between July 2016 to March 2019, including in the Davao Region between November 2011 to June 2016.

“The ICC has no jurisdiction over the situation in Philippines. The alleged murder incidents that happened during the relevant period do not constitute ‘crimes against humanity,’ considering that said incidents do not qualify as an ‘attack’ against the civilian population.

“Furthermore, the said occurrences were not in furtherance of a state or organizational policy to commit such attack,” said Guevarra, who pointed out three issues as why the ICC cannot hold investigation.

The ICC last September authorized a probe into alleged crimes against humanity in Philippines. The request to investigate the case against Duterte was filed on June 14 by former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

“Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court granted the Prosecutor’s request to commence an investigation in relation to crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the so-called ‘war on drugs’ campaign,” the ICC had said.

However, Philippines insisted that the complaints filed before the ICC are “already being investigated and prosecuted by the proper agencies and that the state is neither unwilling or unable to carry out these domestic proceedings. A report on the progress of these investigations was included in the submission.”

Guevarra argued the Philippines state-level investigative proceedings “should take precedence” thus “rendering the resumption of the investigation into the Philippine situation unwarranted.”

The Philippine top lawyer’s office also explained “extent of the drug problem” in the country.

Soon after Duterte took office in June 2016, he launched the so-called war on drugs.

He conducted large-scale arrests of drug dealers and users, and allowed the police to kill every criminal and drug user.

In 2018, Duterte announced Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute, which took effect in March 2019.

Duterte stepped down in June after his six-year term after Ferdinand Marcos Jr. won a landslide victory in presidential elections.

Rome Statute mandated establishment of the ICC in 2002 to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

Despite Manila repeatedly claiming that the ICC has no jurisdiction over Philippines as the Southeast Asian nation has withdrawn from its membership, the international court has said it still had jurisdiction over the crimes committed by Duterte from November 2011 to March 2019, when the country was still a signatory to the statute.

Source: Anadolu Agency