ICC authorizes probe of Philippine president’s drug war

Chamber grants prosecutor’s request to begin investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AA) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) said Wednesday that it will open a probe into alleged crimes against humanity in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs.”

“Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court granted the Prosecutor’s request to commence an investigation in relation to crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the so-called ‘war on drugs’ campaign,” the ICC said in a statement.

The Chamber said the so-called ‘war on drugs’ campaign cannot be seen as a legitimate law enforcement operation and the killings neither as legitimate nor as mere excesses in an otherwise legitimate operation.

The request to investigate the case against Duterte was filed on June 14 by former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

The ‘war on drugs’ of Duterte’s government was launched soon after he took office in June 2016.

He conducted large-scale arrests of drug dealers and users and allowed the police to kill every criminal and drug user.

In 2018, Duterte announced the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute, which took effect in March 2019.

Since then, the president has repeatedly said that he would not cooperate in the ICC investigation, claiming that the court has no jurisdiction in the Philippines as the Southeast Asian nation has withdrawn from its membership.

However, the ICC said it still had jurisdiction over the crimes committed by Duterte from November 2011 to March 2019, when the country was still a signatory to the statute.

The latest official figures released in June showed that as of the end of April 2021, police and other security forces had killed at least 6,117 suspected drug dealers during operations.

Established in 2002, the ICC is a permanent court that can investigate and prosecute crimes in situations where national authorities are unable or unwilling to act genuinely.​​​​​​​

*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo with Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian language services in Jakarta


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