Philippine leader slams ICC prosecutor’s plan to reopen drug war probe


The office of outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday it was “exasperated” with International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor and his plan to continue the probe into the killing of thousands of civilians in the government’s war on drugs.

A deferral of the ICC’s probe sought by Manila was not warranted, Karim Khan said on Friday (24 June), adding that the probe should recommence as quickly as possible.

The Duterte administration has undertaken “investigations of all deaths that have arisen from lawful drug enforcement operations” and the ICC should let the government’s efforts run their course, presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said in a statement.

Last September, ICC judges approved a Philippine government investigation into the campaign in which thousands of suspected drug peddlers had died.

Activists say many had been executed by law enforcement agencies with the tacit backing of the President. The ICC suspended the investigation in November at Manila’s request.

The government, whose drug war death tally runs through May 2022, officially acknowledges 6,252 deaths.

Mr. Duterte, whose six-year rule ends on June 30, has defended the police and argued that all those killed were drug dealers who resisted arrest.

He has publicly said police could kill if they believed they were in danger and he would pardon any who end up in prison.

Maria Elena Vignoli, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch, said Mr. Khan’s request to resume the investigation into alleged crimes against humanity during the drugs war “is a booster shot for accountability”.

“The government has not been serious about justice for these crimes while the victims’ families grieve without redress and those responsible face no consequences,” Ms. Vignoli said in a statement. (Source: The Straits Times)