Does ICC have jurisdiction to probe PH’s ‘crimes against humanity?’

Published June 19, 2021, 11:47 AM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Commission on Human Rights

Does the International Criminal Court (ICC) really have jurisdiction to investigate the Philippines’ alleged crimes against humanity that were reportedly committed in its campaign against illegal drugs?

Yes, said the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

“We first have to remember that in 2011 it was the Philippine government itself which voluntarily entered into the Rome Statute — not the CHR, that’s very clear,” said CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia.

“When it entered the Rome Statute, very clear doon ang obligation ng State party (the obligation of the State party is very clear), which is the Philippine government, to recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC whenever the four crimes under it are committed,” she said.

The ICC has jurisdiction over international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crimes of aggression.

Since the Philippines was part of the Rome Statute from 2011 up until March 2018, De Guia, a lawyer, explained that the effectivity of its law will extend up to March 2019.

She pointed out that the Philippines has an obligation to observe the treaty with the Rome Statute since it was the one that voluntarily entered.

“From 2011 to 2019, may jurisdiction pa rin ang international court kahit nag-withdraw na tayo from this treaty. Based doon, binding siya during that time period. Kung susuriin ang report ni Prosecutor, sinasabi niya na wina-widen niya ang scope niya from 2011 up until 2019 (From 2011 to 2019, the international court still has jurisdiction even though we have withdrawn from this treaty. Based on that, that time period is still binding. If we will examine the report of the prosecutor, she is saying that she will widen the scope from 2011 up until 2019),” she said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said last June 17 that President Duterte just “shrugged off” the report made by outgoing Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of ICC.

After reading the 52-page report, Roque expressed confidence that it “will not stand in court” because the newspaper accounts it cited are just mere “hearsay.”