ICC allows PH to reply to prosecutor's arguments on drug war probe appeal

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 13) — The International Criminal Court (ICC) has approved the Philippine government’s request to reply to the arguments raised by the ICC prosecutor regarding the country's appeal against the resumption of the tribunal’s probe into Duterte administration's anti-drug war.

In its decision dated May 2 but made public only on Saturday, the ICC appeals chamber said a reply to certain issues raised by ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan would help it decide on the appeal.

It gave the Philippines until May 16 to submit its response, which should not exceed 10 pages.

In November 2021, the ICC suspended its probe into the previous administration’s controversial drug war following a deferral request from the Philippine government.

However, in January this year, the court’s pre-trial chamber authorized the resumption of the inquiry, saying it was "not satisfied" with developments in local investigations.

The Philippines appealed this decision, arguing that the move would violate its sovereignty and that the chamber erred in some of its findings. 

On April 4, Khan submitted a 56-page response where he urged the ICC to reject the country's petition. According to the prosecutor, the government “failed to show any error” in the decision of the court to roll out the probe.

A week later, the Philippines sought ICC’s permission to reply to the points made by Khan, particularly citing five issues which “could not have been reasonably anticipated” by the government.

The appeals chamber said that the Philippines would need to respond to only two out of the five issues it mentioned.

During Duterte's term, state monitoring platform RealNumbersPH showed that over 6,000 people died in anti-illegal drug operations.

Local and international human rights groups, however, estimate an even higher tally of between 12,000 and 30,000.