MANILA, Philippines – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor will continue the preliminary examinations of alleged crimes of humanity, given the high number of killings in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
“The Office has further closely followed relevant developments in the Philippines and will continue to do so,” the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) said in its report of activities released on Wednesday, December 5.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda noted Duterte’s withdrawal of the Philippines from the ICC, which will become effective on March 17, 2019, or a year after the government deposited its withdrawal with the United Nations. Under the Rome Statute, however, examinations that started before the withdrawal will not be affected.
Bensouda reiterated the standing validity of the examination in her report, saying that “the Office will also continue to record allegations of crimes committed in the Philippines to the extent that they may fall within the jurisdiction of the Court.”
The ICC may proceed to an investigation if the examination proves jurisdiction, which will occur if Philippine courts are deemed unable or unwilling to investigate the killings themselves. (READ: Conviction of Kian's killers won't weaken ICC examination of drug war – experts)
Bensouda said her office has consulted and they met with stakeholders at The Hague, and will continue “to engage with a variety of reliable sources.”
“In accordance with its Policy Paper on Preliminary Examinations, the Office may further gather available information on relevant national proceedings, as necessary and appropriate at this stage, Bensouda said.
According to latest government data, 5,000 have been killed in police anti-drug operations, although human rights groups estimate the killings have gone as high as 20,000 if executions by vigilantes are included.
So far, excluding numbers from Manila, Quezon City, and Taguig, the Department of Justice has only investigated 76 killings.