The previous president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, waged a drug war that resulted in thousands of fatalities. The International Criminal Court has announced that it will resume its investigation into potential “crimes against humanity” in the Philippines.
The Hague-based court announced its intentions to launch an inquiry in February 2018 but paused its operations in November 2021 at the request of the Philippine government after Manila declared it was conducting its own investigation.
After reviewing the documents provided by the authorities in the Philippines and other countries, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan stated in June of last year that the delay was not justified and made an application to reopen the ICC case.
Since then, the court has been considering arguments made by the Philippines, the prosecution, and the victims. The International Criminal Court (ICC) stated in a statement on Thursday that it was “unsatisfied that the Philippines is conducting necessary investigations that would merit a postponement of the Court’s investigations.”
“The various domestic initiatives and processes, viewed cumulatively, do not amount to palpable, concrete, and forward-moving investigative steps in a manner that would appropriately match the Court’s investigation,” the statement continued.
As soon as he entered office in June 2016, Duterte, a former mayor of the southern city of Davao who ran for office on a promise of battling crime, declared “war on drugs” and regularly urged police to “murder” drug suspects.
8,663 individuals were reported murdered in anti-drug operations by the UN in 2021, but the Human Rights Commission of the Philippines and other local human rights organizations believe the actual number might be up to three times higher.
Duterte continued the “large-scale extrajudicial violence as a crime solution” that he had developed during his 22 years as governor of Davao, according to Human Rights Watch, which uncovered evidence that police were fabricating evidence to justify unlawful executions.
A year after making the announcement in March 2018, Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the ICC and declared that his government will not participate with any inquiries.
The court has the authority to look into offences that happened before March 2019, when the Philippines’ withdrawal was made official.
Duterte was succeeded by Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last year because presidents in the Philippines are only permitted to hold office for one six-year term. The “war on drugs” will continue, according to Marcos Jr., but with an emphasis on rehabilitation.