ICC urged: Resume drug war probe

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FILE PHOTO

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 20) — A group of lawyers has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to resume its probe into the Duterte administration's bloody drug war.

The ICC suspended its investigation after Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Eduardo Malaya asked the body to "defer to" the local authorities' probes into deaths during anti-drug operations. 

"The NUPL (National Union of People’s Lawyers) entreats the ICC Prosecutor to deny any such deferral request and, instead, continue with the conduct of a full-blown investigation into the drug-war atrocities," the group said in a statement.

"These domestic remedies described by the Philippine Ambassador in his letter have proven utterly ineffective in stopping wave after wave of drug-related killings, the imprisonment of thousands of poor Filipinos on questionable charges, and the commission of countless human rights violations during the anti-drug campaign," it argued.

NUPL questioned why the Duterte administration is "suddenly waving" the Justice department's investigation into 52 drug war deaths "out of tens of thousands as an indicator that domestic mechanisms are working." It added this is just the government's attempt at "white-washing" its anti-drug campaign.

Meanwhile, Malacañang on Saturday reiterated that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines and expressed hope that the court will grant its request.

"We welcome the judiciousness of the new ICC prosecutor, who has deemed it fit to give the matter a fresh look and we trust that the matter will be resolved in favor of the exhonoration of our government and the recognition of the vibrancy of our justice system," acting Presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a statement.

In September, the ICC's pre-trial chamber authorized the start of the investigation into the Duterte administration's drug war, as well as the alleged Davao Death Squad's extrajudicial killings. The probe covers supposed crimes committed from November 1, 2011 to March 16, 2019. 

The incumbent administration earlier said it will not cooperate with the ICC in relation to its investigation, arguing the court has no jurisdiction over the Philippines following the country's withdrawal from the ICC two years ago. 

The ICC earlier maintained it has jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed while the Philippines was still a state party.

The Philippines ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, on August 30, 2011. The Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC took effect in March 2019.