ICC ruling opens way to investigation on killings in Philippines

July 18, 2023 - 4:21 PM
Seat of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. (ICC photo)

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday rejected an attempt by the Philippines to block an investigation into thousands of killings in the country during former President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs”.

In September 2021, the ICC approved a formal investigation into possible crimes against humanity allegedly committed under Duterte’s leadership, but it suspended its probe in November 2021 at the request of Manila which said it was carrying out its own investigations.

But in January this year, the court said it was “not satisfied that the Philippines is undertaking relevant investigations” and prosecutors resumed their inquiry. Manila appealed that decision in an attempt to block further investigation.

This was “rejected by the appeals chamber by majority”, presiding Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut said in a summary of the decision on Tuesday, upholding the lower court’s ruling supporting prosecutors’ investigation.

A majority of judges rejected all four points of Manila’s appeal, including that the ICC has no jurisdiction in the Philippines and that authorities there were conducting their own investigation.

The Philippines withdrew from the ICC in March 2019. But appeals judges ruled prosecutors still had jurisdiction over the alleged crimes because they occurred when the Philippines was still an ICC member.

—Reporting by Anthony Deutsch, Benoit Van Overstraeten, Editing by Charlotte Van Campenhout and Emma Rumney