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ICC prosecutor vows to uncover truth in Duterte 'war on drugs'

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
ICC prosecutor vows to uncover truth in Duterte 'war on drugs'
The seat of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands is seen in this photo release by the International Commission of Jurists, a non-governmental organization advocating for human rights.
ICJ / Released

'In the face of non-cooperation of Philippine officials'

MANILA, Philippines — In the face of Philippine government officials insisting on non-cooperation with international probers, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan vowed to uncover the truth in President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody “war on drugs.”

In a statement late Thursday night (Manila time), Khan issued a statement weeks after the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber approved his office’s request to launch an investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity in the Philippines.

“My investigation will seek to uncover the truth and aim to ensure accountability. We will focus our efforts on ensuring a successful, independent and impartial investigation,” Khan said.

Khan also asserted that, as affirmed by the Pre-Trial Chamber, his office’s investigation will cover alleged crimes in the country from November 2011 to March 2019, when the Philippines’ withdrawal took effect.

The probe will also cover alleged killings in Davao City between 2011 and 2016, when he was in the local government of the southern Philippine city. 

The Duterte government has been adamant about insisting that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the country. Officials have also maintained that they will not cooperate with international probers.

But Khan said that his office remains” willing to constructively engage with national authorities in accordance with the principle of complementarity and our obligations under the Statute,”

The ICC prosecutor also said he will count on the cooperation of States Parties, civil society and other partners so it may give justice to victims and affected communities.

Khan added: “I equally look forward to exploring opportunities for greater engagement and dialogue between my Office and the Asia-Pacific region.”

RELATED: After announcing retirement from politics, Duterte says he will prepare defense for ICC probe

Difficulties in investigation

Retired ICC Judge Raul Pangalangan earlier said that the international tribunal can employ alternative ways to gather evidence in its investigation.

Social media posts may be used, and the ICC may also fly witnesses to The Hague. Online mechanisms can be used too if the investigator cannot physically come to the country.

Even before the PTC approved the request of the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor for a full investigation, witnesses as well as kin of "drug war" victims have also been submitting their testimonies to the tribunal.

The OTP, in what has been called former Prosecutor Fatou Bensounda’s valedictory, noted that the office is "[a]ware of the complex operational challenges" that they will face if their request for the probe is approved.

“[W]e have also been taking a number of measures to collect and preserve evidence, in anticipation of a possible investigation,” she added.

DRUG WAR

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

RODRIGO DUTERTE

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 24, 2022 - 11:18pm

President Rodrigo Duterte says the controversial drug war will continue until the last day of his term, with or without a communication filed at the International Criminal Court.

The ICC recently announced that it has begun processing the accusations against Duterte and his campaign against illegal drugs, which has led to the killing of thousands of people since he assumed power in June 2016. — Photo of the ICC building by AP/Peter Dejong

June 24, 2022 - 11:18pm

Requesting to resume investigation into Duterte admin's "war on drugs," Karim Khan, International Criminal Court prosecutor, concludes that Philippine government "has not demonstrated that it has investigated" the crimes.

ICC Prosecutor Khan also argues that the info that Philippine government submitted is insufficient and that the drug war cases only led to "non-penal initiatives and proceedings" without criminal prosecution.

November 22, 2021 - 11:02am

Free Legal Assistance Group urges the International Criminal Court to continue its investigation on the so-called war on drugs in the Philippines.

The lawyers’ group points out that the cited investigation merely relied on documents provided by the Philippine National Police and only covered a small fraction of killings under the bloody “war on drugs” by the Duterte administration.

“The DOJ ‘investigation’ adverted to in the Philippines’ deferral letter covers only a fraction of the killings or attempted killings which occurred within the scope of the ICC investigation,” the group says in a letter addressed to ICC Prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan.

September 16, 2021 - 12:07pm

President Rodrigo Duterte will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court's probe into the drug war, his lawyer says Thursday, insisting the tribunal does not have jurisdiction in the country.

Duterte "will not cooperate since first of all, the Philippines has left the Rome statute, so the ICC no longer has jurisdiction over the country," chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo tells local radio DZBB.

"The government will not let in any ICC member to collect information and evidence here in the Philippines, they will be barred entry." — AFP

January 14, 2020 - 2:32pm

Lawyer Romel Bagares, lead counsel for Philippine Coalition for International Criminal Court, says Jude Sabio’s communication against President Rodrigo Duterte at the International Criminal Court was "largely irrelevant."

"To begin with, his submission was largely irrelevant as it dealt with matters before Mr Duterte became president," Bagares says. 

"Also the OTP (Office of the Prosecutor) itself said in its Dec 5 report said it consulted open sources in its preliminary examination so it is not limited to him. But definitely it will buoy up the confidence of all the President’s men," he adds. 

January 14, 2020 - 2:14pm

Lawyer Jude Sabio says he will withdraw his communication about extrajudicial killings filed before the International Criminal Court.

In a release, Sabio says "he did not approve what Trillanes and other LP personalities have resorted to aimed at besmirching the honor of the President."

The lawyer, who was assisted by Larry Gadon in a Quezon City court, has signed and sworn an affidavit and statement about his withdrawal.  

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