ICC: Philippine gov't must give info on 'drug war' probes cited in deferral request

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
ICC: Philippine gov't must give info on 'drug war' probes cited in deferral request
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

MANILA, Philippines — International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan said his office will ask the Philippine government to provide “substantiating information” on proceedings it cited when it sought deferral of the investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in the country over the “war on drugs.”

This was after Khan said, in a document dated November 18, they will temporarily suspend its investigation into the Philippines as it “assesses the scope and effect” of the government’s request for deferral.

In his latest statement, Khan said that the State seeking deferral of the probe must “promptly” provide information on investigations it cited to support their request.

He explained that the Philippines must provide information that is “of tangible evidence, of probative value and a sufficient degree of specificity, demonstrating that concrete and progressive investigative steps that have been or are currently being undertaken to ascertain the responsibility of persons for alleged conduct falling within the scope of the authorized ICC investigation.”

“Accordingly, and pursuant to rule 53 of the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Prosecutor will in the coming days request the Philippines to provide substantiating information regarding the investigations and proceedings referenced in its Deferral Request,” Khan added.

The Philippines, in its letter to the ICC signed by Ambassador to the Netherlands Eduardo Malaya, said that the government is thoroughly investigating all reported deaths during anti-narcotics operations in the country.

He also cited the latest review of the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the release of an information matrix on 52 cases where administrative liability was found on the part of law enforcement.

But the Free Legal Assistance Group, a group of lawyers assisting kin of “drug war” victims, has written to the ICC to point out that the 52 cases also consist of a small fraction of the tens of thousands alleged deaths under the Duterte government’s anti-narcotics campaign.

The 52 cases reviewed by the DOJ did not also cover killings in Davao between Nov. 1, 2011 and June 30, 2016, which the ICC said it will look into.

The matrix released by the justice department also showed that most cops involved in the operations that resulted in deaths were only slapped with suspension — an “inconsequential penalty” that the DOJ did not even comment on, FLAG stressed.

READ: DOJ review finds lapses in 'drug war' ops commonly punished with suspension

Analysis to continue

Khan also said that while his office has temporarily suspended the investigation into matters cited by the Philippines in its deferral request, it will continue its analysis on information it already has it in hand.

He added that they will also look into any new information they may receive from third parties, and will actively assess the need for applications to conduct for the preservation of evidence.

He also explained that the pause in the investigation is in compliance with his office’s “obligations under the Statute and practice in similar situation.”

Khan also said that they will pay particular attention to the security and wellbeing of victims and witnesses during this time.

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 3, 2019 - 1:15pm

Albert del Rosario, a former top diplomat, arrives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after being denied entry to Hong Kong earlier today.

Del Rosario, along with former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, filed a communication in March this year before the International Criminal Court accusing Chinese leader Xi Jinping of crimes against humanity in the conduct of China in the West Philippine Sea.

Morales also experienced being barred from entering the China-administered region last month.

July 3, 2019 - 1:15pm

Albert del Rosario, whose term highlight as foreign affairs chief was the Philippines' award against China at an arbitral tribunal, resigned as non-executive director of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Company Ltd.

Among the reasons he cited in the announcement are his "poor health" and "other constraints," including his "increased involvement in a number of personal advocacies which makes it difficult for him to continue to serve as director" of the company.

The announcement came two weeks after his entrance to Hong Kong to attend a First Pacific board meeting was barred by Hong Kong authorities.

The action of the China-controlled territory was largely seen as a consequence of his move in March to file a communication accusing Chinese President Xi Jinping of international crimes over Beijing's actions in the South China Sea, particularly in the Philippines' jurisdiction of the West Philippine Sea.

June 22, 2019 - 11:45am

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima says the lengthy detention of former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has something to do with their filing with the International Criminal Court against Chinese President Xi Jinping against humanity committed in the West Philippine Sea. 

"Notably, the harassment of Sec. Del Rosario by Chinese immigration took place less than two weeks after a Chinese fishing vessel, largely believed to be a part of China’s maritime militia, rammed the Philippine fishing boat Gem-Ver 1 and left its Filipino crew for dead," says De Lima.

"The Gem-Ver ramming is just the latest example of the crimes against humanity committed by China in the WPS. And thanks to Morales and Del Rosario, China has another reason to worry that it cannot go on committing these crimes, whether against Filipinos or other nationalities, without international consequences. China is clearly bothered with the Morales and Del Rosario ICC complaint, but petty enough to retaliate against the two by harassing and detaining them at the HK airport," she adds.

June 21, 2019 - 8:13pm

Diplomatic passports are issued as an extended privilege to former senior government officials who no longer serve official functions, such as the president or vice president, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs' Passport Section.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, claims that Albert del Rosario misused his diplomatic passport in trying to enter Hong Kong on a non-official trip. Panelo fails to cite the traditional privelege granted to previously serving top officials.

Del Rosario, whose term as former foreign affairs secretary ended in February 2016, says he had no problems with the use of the diplomatic passport to Hong Kong before today.

June 21, 2019 - 6:35pm

Malacañang slams the possible misuse of former chief diplomat Albert del Rosario of the diplomatic passport on a private trip.

In a statement, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo says Del Rosario's trip to Hong Kong was "in no way related to government or foreign service."

"Mr. Del Rosario should have known or have been alerted to the proper use of diplomatic passports and other travel documents," Panelo says.

He also says Hong Kong has the right to bar entry to any foreign national to its territory.

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