‘Blatant violation’: DFA hits ICC request to open probe into rights situation in PH
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines found it as “deeply regrettable” the request of the outgoing prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines, including drug war killings.
In a statement Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that the ICC “is a court of last resort.”
“The Philippine Government finds deeply regrettable the announcement of the outgoing Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to seek judicial authorization to proceed with an investigation of the Situation in the Philippines,” the DFA said.
On Monday, outgoing ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she has formally requested judicial authorization to investigate the crimes against humanity case filed against President Rodrigo Duterte, following the conclusion of her office’s preliminary investigation on the complaints filed by local groups.
But the DFA said that state parties to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, envisioned the court to have “complementary, not primary, the jurisdiction of prosecution of the persons most responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern.”
“The precipitate move of the prosecutor is a blatant violation of the principle of complementary, which is a bedrock principle of the Rome Statute,” the department said.
The DFA likewise called out Bensouda for announcing her request for a probe in the Philippines “on the eve of her end of term,” saying this preempts the prerogative of her successor to “make a full evaluation of the cases that he will prosecute.”
“By her act, the outgoing Prosecutor likewise undercuts the attractiveness of the Rome Statute to States that may be considering accession,” the DFA added.
The DFA further stressed that the inter-agency review panel led by the Philippine Department of Justice is “continuing to do its work” in probing drug war killings and “should be allowed to finish such work.”
“The Philippine Government has taken concrete and progressive steps to address concerns in the conduct of anti-illegal drugs campaign and has recently finalized with the [United Nations] a Joint Program on Human Rights,” it added.
“All these affirm the Philippines’ adherence to human rights norms and its long track record of constructive engagement with international and regional partners in human rights,” the DFA also said.
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