Groups laud ICC prosecutor’s call to resume PH drug war probe, urge incoming admin to cooperate

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 25)— Human rights groups have welcomed the request of International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan to resume the investigation into the Philippine government’s bloody drug war, saying the move brings families of victims a step closer to justice.

In a statement on Saturday, New York-based Human Rights Watch said the ICC prosecutor’s request is a “a booster shot for accountability.”

“The government has not been serious about justice for these crimes while the victims’ families grieve without redress and those responsible face no consequences,” said Maria Elena Vignoli, HRW senior counsel in the International Justice Program.

Amnesty International called on the incoming administration of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to cooperate with the ICC probe and to ensure the safety of families of victims and witnesses.

It also urged the Office of the Prosecutor to speed up the investigation.

“Six years on from the start of the ‘war on drugs,’ families of victims are another step closer to some form of justice,” Amnesty International said.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers said the development is a “fitting cap” for the final days in office of President Rodrigo Duterte, who launched the controversial anti-drug campaign in 2016.

The lawyers’ group vowed it will continue to assist the victims pushing for an investigation in the Philippines, adding it would prepare for eventual trial.

In November 2021, the ICC suspended its investigation into the Duterte administration’s war on drugs following a deferral request from the Philippine government.

But Khan, in his latest statement, said the request was not justified. He argued that the Philippine government failed to show proof and details of its own probe on related killings.

RELATED: Relatives of drug war victims tell ICC: No genuine probe in PH

PH govt fights back

Malacañang, for its part, maintained that authorities have launched the necessary investigations into the deaths related to the anti-drug drive.

“This shows transparency and the efforts to address alleged flaws in the campaign are in fact supported by the United Nations in its technical cooperation program with the Philippines,” acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar said.

Outgoing Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra declined to comment, saying he will first speak to the Department of Foreign Affairs and other agencies involved.

"Pursuant to our internal understanding, all public statements about the ICC case shall emanate from the DFA," Guevarra said.