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De Lima welcomes resumption of ICC investigation on Duterte

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
De Lima welcomes resumption of ICC investigation on Duterte
Sen. Leila de Lima said it is clear that the present government, including its Department of Justice (DOJ), has not conducted any meaningful investigation of the extra-judicial killings (EJKs) committed by state security forces and state agents in the course of Duterte’s murderous war on drugs.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, File

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Leila de Lima welcomed “with great relief and optimism” the decision of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to request the latter to lift the suspension on the preliminary investigation of the killings and other alleged rights abuses under the Duterte administration.

De Lima said it is clear that the present government, including its Department of Justice (DOJ), has not conducted any meaningful investigation of the extra-judicial killings (EJKs) committed by state security forces and state agents in the course of Duterte’s murderous war on drugs.

“The OTP has seen through the ruse that the so-called DOJ investigation is, calling it a mere desk investigation that has not amounted to anything substantial to unearth the principals behind the Duterte government’s EJK policy,” she added.

The OTP filed a motion asking for the lifting of the deferment investigation into the drug war killings and those allegedly carried out by the Davao Death Squad (DDS) when Duterte was mayor of Davao City.

In a request to the pre-trial chamber in The Hague last June 24, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said, “The prosecution requests the chamber to authorize the resumption of the Court’s investigation in the situation in the Philippines, notwithstanding the deferral request.”

“After a careful and thorough review of all the information provided by the Philippines, as well as other information available publicly… I have concluded that the deferral requested by the Philippines is not warranted, and that the investigation should resume as quickly as possible,” Khan said.

The ICC suspended its investigation into Duterte’s drug war in November last year at the Philippines’ request, with government officials citing their own investigations into the killings.

De Lima said Duterte’s officials should have known that the ICC Prosecutor “is not and cannot be deluded,” saying the latter is sharp and incisive enough to know that the purported DOJ investigation fell short of the ICC’s standards and expectations.

“Not only does said probe cover a miniscule fraction – only 52 – of the thousands of suspected EJK cases and involving only ‘low-level’ perpetrators, there is also no showing that the very role or conduct of the ‘PNP and government leadership’ is being seriously looked into,” De Lima said.

“The ICC’s consistent investigative policy is to focus on ‘persons bearing the greatest responsibility’ for these crimes against humanity. And such a tack is not at all mirrored in the DOJ’s investigation as it has clearly spared the top perpetrators,” she added.

Additionally, De Lima also welcomed the statement of the incoming National Security Adviser, Clarita Carlos, that the Philippine government should allow the ICC investigation to be undertaken and to let a team of scholars accompany them.

“The adoption of Dr. Carlos’ position by the next administration will only demonstrate to the world that the incoming Philippine government will value human rights more than its predecessor. As she said: ‘human rights is primary’ and that ‘the first protection is the protection of the individual,’” said De Lima.

De Lima was the first to sound the alarm on EJKs being committed in the guise of Duterte’s drug war, via her privilege speeches and Proposed Senate Resolution No. 9, directing the Senate committee on justice and human rights to investigate the rampant summary executions of suspected drug offenders, which she filed last July 2016.

The government officially acknowledges 6,252 deaths in its drug war but human rights groups said the number could be between 11,000 to 30,000.
Malacañang said on Saturday it was exasperated at the ICC Prosecutor’s latest request for the resumption of investigations into the government’s drug war.

Renew support

Ahead of its 20th anniversary on July 1, the ICC called on states worldwide to renew their support, including arresting suspects and freezing assets of perpetrators of the most serious crimes.

Trying the gravest crimes involving victims, ensuring fair trials, complementing national tribunals in its first 20 years of existence, the ICC has made notable progress in its crucial mission.

With the support of 123 States Parties from all continents, the ICC has established itself as a permanent and independent judicial institution. But unlike national judicial systems, the Court does not have its own police.

The ICC depends on the cooperation of states, including to implement its arrest warrants or summonses.

Nor does it have territory to relocate witnesses who are at risk. The ICC depends, to a large extent, on the support and cooperation of states.

“As the Court marks its 20th birthday, it is calling on states worldwide to renew their support by providing political and financial support, arresting suspects and freezing their assets, adopting implementing legislation that enacts key Rome Statute provisions in national legislation and by signing voluntary cooperation agreements including relocation agreements for ICC witnesses,” according to the United Natons. –  Pia Lee-Brago

LEILA DE LIMA

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