Philippines not serious about probing war on drugs: HRW

·Contributor
·2 min read
Filipino activists, and relatives of people killed in the country's war on drugs, hold a rally in observance of Human Rights Day in Manila, Philippines, December 10, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)
Filipino activists, and relatives of people killed in the country's war on drugs, hold a rally in observance of Human Rights Day in Manila, Philippines, December 10, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a statement on Thursday (September 8) said that there’s “no compelling evidence” that could show that the Philippines is serious about investigating, let alone prosecuting, those that were responsible for the killings of the past administration’s war on drugs.

The statement comes after the Philippine government, represented by the Solicitor General, submitted its comment before the pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC), arguing that the ICC and its prosecutor, Karim Khan, no longer have jurisdiction over the Philippines.

“Since the Philippines first sought a halt to the prosecutor’s investigation last November, Human Rights Watch has monitored the situation and found no compelling evidence that the government was seriously investigating these cases, let alone prosecuting those responsible,” HRW’s Senior Philippines Researcher, Carlos Conde, said.

Conde also stressed that “the killings are continuing and impunity for police officers and others implicated in these abuses by all accounts remains intact,” even after former President Rodrigo Duterte stepped down in office.

He has also repeatedly said on several occasions that he will only cooperate on investigations related to the drug war in Philippine courts and he’s not willing for a foreign prosecutor to exercise jurisdiction over him.

In three points, the Philippine government laid down its arguments to permanently suspend the investigation into the drug war, saying that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the situation in the Philippines and that the alleged drug war killings do not constitute “crimes against humanity.”

They also said that the situation is inadmissible under Article 17 of the Rome Statute because the Philippine Government and relevant agencies under it have already started investigating and prosecuting those who might be accountable, and state-level investigative proceedings should take precedence under the complementarity principle.

“In its submission, the Philippine government also presented information showing that inquiries were made into the drug-related killings in the Davao region during the period 2011-2016, and that crimes other than murder in connection with the war on drugs were also investigated,” the Philippine government said in a press statement.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.

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