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Philippines questions ICC jurisdiction, says alleged EJKs 'not crimes vs humanity'

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Philippines questions ICC jurisdiction, says alleged EJKs 'not crimes vs humanity'
Building of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.
Wikimedia Commons

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is asking the Intertnational Criminal Court’s (ICC) pre-trial chamber (PTC) to deny the request of the Office of the Prosecutor to resume its investigation into alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, including  under the "war on drugs."

The Office of the Solicitor General on Thursday said that it transmitted the country’s observations on the alleged crimes against humanity through the Philippine Embassy at The Hague in Netherlands, as required by the ICC PTC. 

"The Philippine government explained to the ICC PTC the extent of the drug problem in the Philippines and the process of investigating and prosecuting drug-related offenses under the Philippine legal and judicial system," the OSG said.

READ: Remulla: ICC to get info on 'drug war' cases as a courtesy, not compliance 

It also maintained that the "ICC has no jurisdiction over the situation in the Philippines" and argued that the incidents that happened between July 1, 2016 to March 16, 2019 and November 1, 2011 to June 30, 2016 “do not constitute [as] ‘crimes against humanity.’’’ 

The OSG said that the situation in the Philippines is inadmissble under Article 17 of the Rome Statute, which, among others — provide that states with jurisdiction already investigating or prosecuting the case may be considered inadmissible. 

However, the same article also provides an exception if the state "is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution."

"The Philippine government emphasized that the complaints filed before the ICC are already being investigated and prosecuted by the proper agencies and that the state is neither unwilling nor unable to carry out these domestic proceedings," the OSG said. 

"A report on the progress of these investigations was included in the submission."

The Philippines also emphasized that state-level investigative proceedings "should take precedence" and said that the ICC prosecutor’s investigation would no longer be needed.

RELATED: Marcos refusal to rejoin ICC should have no bearing on investigation — HRW

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla previously said that the Philippines will respond to the ICC out of courtesy and "not complying in any demand." The government has been adamant in keeping international investigators from visiting the country, maintaining that it is doing its own investigations into the alleged crimes.

However, even with the National Bureau of Investigation, ICC Prosecutor Kharim Khan previously said that the investigations are "still far far short of seeking accountability for the thousands of killings attributable to police (and other groups) in the [‘war on drugs’] context."

The government’s tally as of February this year showed 6,235 individuals died due to the anti-drug operations of former President Rodrigo Duterte, but human rights groups estimate the number of people killed is at around 30,000. 

READ: ‘Drug war’ victims’ kin still hopeful despite Marcos rejecting Philippines’ return to ICC

EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

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