International Criminal Court (ICC) opens investigations

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Update October 2021:

International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan, in office since June 2021, commented on the approval of the investigation: “We will focus our efforts on ensuring a successful, independent and impartial investigation.” The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is still willing to work constructively with Philippine national authorities. In addition, the OTP would like to cooperate with civil society organizations and States Parties. Witnesses can be flown to The Hague, social media content, and online mechanisms can be used for the investigation. Every important authority can contribute information, high-ranking ones, as well as local authorities and police officers.

Rodrigo Duterte said he would prepare for his defense and be ready for the charges against him when retired from politics after his term in June 2022. Former police chief Roland dela Rosa, who is now running for president, may also face impeachment by the ICC. Regarding that matter he would prefer to be held accountable by a Philippine criminal justice system “run like hell than by a criminal justice system run like paradise by foreign judges.

The question of the Philippine government’s cooperation in the ICC investigation is also of concern to presidential candidates in the current election campaigns. For instance, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (or Bongbong Marcos) would stick to the withdrawal from the ICC and grant investigators only entry for tourism. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno would at least favor rejoining the ICC to “give a good impression to the world.” Also, he promised, if elected as president, not to tolerate extrajudicial killings in anti-illegal drug operations.

Background:

The ICC has now opened investigations, as recommended by former ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in her statement from June 14, 2021: against the government of Rodrigo Duterte with regards to the so-called war on drugs starting with the begin of his presidency and until March 2019 as well as with regards to the killings by death sqauds in Davao during the period from 2011-2016, when Duterte was mayor of Davao. The current chief prosecutor of the ICC is Karim Khan. The Philippine government already declared the will not to cooperate with the investigations.

This Rappler article sums up the main aspects of the ICC decision, while this Rappler article states how Senator Dela Rosa would like to choose the jurisdiction that should hold him accountable – while in reality, the whole reason fpr the ICC to act is the absence of national accountability.

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