ICC prosecutor rejects PH gov’t’s arguments in plea vs. drug war probe

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 12) — International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan rejected the arguments raised by the Philippine government in its appeal against the tribunal’s drug war investigation and pushed for the resumption of the inquiry.

In a 59-page response dated April 4, Khan urged the ICC appeals chamber to reject the Philippines’ petition, saying the country “failed to show any error” in the decision of the court to roll out the probe into the anti-drug campaign first launched by the Duterte administration in 2016.

“The Philippines has failed to show any error in the decision, let alone identified any error which materially affects the decision,” Khan said in his filing.

“Instead, the chamber reasonably and correctly considered the materials submitted by the Philippines and correctly applied the law,” he added.

For one, Khan agreed that the ICC retains jurisdiction in this particular case since the Philippines was still a member of the Rome Statute — the treaty that governs the court — when the alleged crimes and killings were committed.

The country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute only took effect in March 2019.

“That the Philippines was not a State Party when the investigation was opened (on 15 September 2021) is immaterial and does not deprive the court of jurisdiction over crimes allegedly committed during the temporal scope of the investigation,” Khan argued.

Khan also stressed that the ICC’s pre-trial chamber “concluded on the basis of multiple factors” that the local probe into the killings failed to mirror the court’s planned investigation.

The ICC prosecutor likewise agreed it was unnecessary to ask the ability or willingness of the Philippines to conduct probes “since there was not sufficient activity” on the matter.

Last month, the country formally appealed the ICC chamber’s decision to reopen the drug war investigation, saying that the move would violate the country’s sovereignty. It said the tribunal erred in some of its findings.

READ: PH hires foreign lawyer to assist in ICC appeal vs. drug war probe

Duterte’s successor, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said the Philippines will “disengage from any contact” with the ICC after it rejected the government's deferral request.