NUPL urges ICC to continue investigation on Duterte’s drug war
MANILA, Philippines — The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) on Saturday urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to continue its investigation on the Duterte administration’s drug war.
The government, through its Netherlands ambassador, earlier asked the ICC to defer the probe so as to give way to domestic efforts to investigate the alleged crimes against humanity. The ICC later suspended its investigation “while it assesses the scope and effect of the deferral request.”
But for the NUPL, the Hague-based court should instead deny the plea of the Philippine government.
“The NUPL entreats the ICC Prosecutor to deny any such deferral request and, instead, continue with the conduct of a full-blown investigation into the drug-war atrocities,” the lawyers’ group said in a statement.
The NUPL said that domestic remedies described by the Philippine ambassador in his letter have proven “utterly ineffective in stopping wave after wave of drug-related killings, the imprisonment of thousands of poor Filipinos on questionable charges, and the commission of countless human rights violations during the anti-drug campaign.”
The lawyers questioned why the Duterte administration is “suddenly waving” the Department of Justice’s investigation on 52 incidents of questionable police anti-drug operations as an indicator that domestic efforts are working.
“We know better,” they said.
“This belated action on the part of the Philippine government is nothing but an attempt at white-washing its blood-soaked flagship program. It conspicuously excludes the possibility of investigating President Duterte and other high-ranking officials who are most responsible for these crimes against humanity,” they added.
NUPL also noted that the ICC Prosecutor and the Pre-Trial Chamber were absolutely on point in their previous assessments when they said that these crimes are the result of an established state policy.
“The Philippine justice system is a significant part of that policy. Not only is it extremely slow and unavailing to the majority of poor and unrepresented victims. It is also clearly being manipulated to shield the perpetrators.
“We ask the ICC not to allow itself to be swayed by the claims now being made by the Duterte administration. These are so contrary to what is happening on the ground and should never be taken at face value.
“The families of the victims of thousands of extra-judicial killings left uninvestigated for years cannot, now, expect to find justice from a system designed specifically to protect those people. The actions taken by the ICC during the last few months had given them that faint glimmer of hope. We cannot take that away from now,” the group said.
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