The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Friday stated that he had sought authorization from the ICC to resume investigating the Philippine government’s “war on drugs” as quickly as possible.
In September last year, the ICC authorized the prosecutor’s office to investigate the Philippines’ alleged crimes against humanity committed between November 2011 and March 2019. The investigation related to the large-scale killings and other alleged human rights abuses that took place in the country as part of the crackdown on drugs. While government records state that about 6,000 drug dealers were killed, many human rights activists and groups peg the number to be much higher.
The ICC probe was suspended following the state’s request and statement that national authorities were already investigating the crimes. However, after a careful perusal of all the information provided by the Philippines into its investigation, the prosecutor concluded that the information was not sufficient and failed to adequately demonstrate any substantial action by the government. “I have concluded that the deferral requested by the Philippines is not warranted, and that the investigation should resume as quickly as possible,” Prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement.
Recognizing the principle of complementarity, Khan noted that although states have the first opportunity to investigate such crimes committed on their territory or by their nationals, “when national authorities fail to act, the Court must step in, and that is why I have filed today’s application.” He added that he had informed the Philippine authorities of his intention to file the application requesting permission to resume the investigation.
Khan concluded his statement by saying:
In my letter, I made clear – and I repeat here now – that I remain ready and willing to continue the productive dialogue we have had since November 2021, and to explore ways in which, moving forward, we can effectively cooperate to deliver justice to victims in the Philippines.