MANILA – The International Criminal Court (ICC) aims to finalize its preliminary examination by next year on the Philippines’ controversial war on drugs to see if there is a need for a full-blown investigation.
In a report released on Friday, ICC said its Prosecutor’s Office has “advanced its assessment of whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed under Article 15 (3) of the Statute.”
“During 2020, the Office will aim to finalize the preliminary examination in order to enable the Prosecutor to reach a decision on whether to seek authorization to open an investigation into the situation in the Philippines,” the ICC added.
Article 15 (3) of the Rome Statute states that “if the Prosecutor concludes there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation, he or she shall submit to the Pre-Trial Chamber a request for authorization of an investigation, together with any supporting material collected.”
On October 2016, the ICC prosecutor issued a statement “expressing concern about the reports of alleged extrajudicial killings of purported drug dealers and users in the Philippines.”
It was on February 2018 when ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that they opening a preliminary examination on the alleged crimes committed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war after a review of communications and reports documenting alleged crimes including extrajudicial killings.
Following Bensouda’s announcement, the Philippine government deposited on March 17, 2018 a written notification of withdrawal to the UN Secretary-General. The withdrawal took effect a year after, on March 17, 2019.
However, despite Philippines’ withdrawal, the ICC prosecutors said that they still has jurisdiction over the case.
“[T]he Court retains jurisdiction over alleged crimes that have occurred on the territory of the Philippines during the period when it was a State Party to the Statute, namely from 1 November 2011 up to and including 16 March 2019. Furthermore, the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction (i.e. the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed up to and including 16 March 2019) is not subject to any time limit,” it said.
The Prosecutor’s Office “continued to engage and consult with relevant stakeholders in order to address a range of matters relevant to the preliminary examination and to seek further information to inform its assessment of the situation,” including meetings with stakeholders, such as various civil society organizations.
More than 5,000 drug suspects were killed from July 1, 2016, the start of the Duterte administration, until June 30 this year. Government has denied involvement in extrajudicial killings, saying those slain in the drug war had resisted arrest./PN