The announcement made by International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open an investigation on the bloody war-on-drugs campaign in the country preempts the prerogative of her successor and undercuts the attractiveness of the Rome Statute to States that may be considering accession, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.
In a statement, the DFA said the Philippines has taken “concrete and progressive” steps in addressing the controversial drug war that left more than 6,000 people dead over the period of the past five years under the administration of President Duterte.
“The midnight announcement by the current Prosecutor on the eve of her end of term also 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 said.
It cited as one of the government steps the recent finalization of the United Nations Joint Program on Human Rights that would document the objectives, strategies, and targets of the program towards credible and measurable outcomes and concrete impact on the ground, especially for vulnerable groups.
“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 promotion and protection,” the Department added.
On Monday, the outgoing ICC official announced that the preliminary examination into the situation in the Philippines has concluded and that she has requested judicial authorization to proceed with a probe.
She explained that the situation in the Philippines has been under preliminary examination since February 8, 2018 and has analyzed a large amount of publicly available information and information provided to them under the Statute.
“On that basis of that work, I have determined that there is reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder has been committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 July 2016 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the Government of the Philippines ‘war on drugs’ campaign,” Bensouda said.
The Gambian-born Bensouda whose term ends on June 15, 2021 will be succeeded by British lawyer Karim Khan.