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ICC prosecutor says 'drug war' probe needed despite government arguments

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ICC prosecutor says 'drug war' probe needed despite government arguments
Building of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.
Wikimedia Commons

MANILA, Philippines — International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan continues to push for an on-ground investigation into the “war on drugs” of the Rodrigo Duterte administration.

Manila is asking the court’s pre-trial chamber to reject the Office of the Prosecutor’s request to resume its investigation on the alleged extrajudicial killings on grounds such as the court’s supposed lack of jurisdiction and the gravity of the alleged crimes.

However, in a 21-page response dated September 22, the ICC prosecutor maintained that "none of those arguments have merit."

"There is no provision in the Statute for a State to challenge the resumption of an investigation on jurisdictional or gravity grounds at this stage of proceedings," Khan wrote, adding that the country’s gravity challenge is not backed by facts.

The ICC prosecutor said the government's submission did not refute any previous findings. He also said that the government has not submitted any information that would contradict allegations.

The response comes just two weeks after the Philippines transmitted its observation on the alleged crimes against humanity through the Philippine Embassy at The Hague in Netherlands. 

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

Manila has consistently said that the government is capable of and is already conducting its own investigation into "drug war" deaths, but the ICC prosecutor said he remains unsatisfied with the country’s independent efforts to look into Duterte’s "war on drugs". 

For one, Khan noted that the Department of Justice’s Inter-Agency Review Panel’s review "fall short of comprising such tangible, concrete, and progressive investigative steps."

The Philippine government has also failed to provide substantiated criminal proceedings that concern Davao cases from 2011 to 2016, he said.

"The small number of investigations and prosecutions arguably substantiated by the Philippine government continue to be few in number, are directed at low-level and physical perpetrators, relate only to killings during official police operations, and fail to investigate patterns of conduct or any policy underlying the killings," Khan said. 

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

WAR ON DRUGS

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