ICC ruling ‘a step toward justice’ for extrajudicial killing victims: Rights groups

The Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying President Marcos should support accountability for grave crimes committed during Duterte’s drug war and cooperate with the court.

Faith Argosino

Faith Argosino

Philippine Daily Inquirer


Relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings attributed to the Duterte administration’s drug war gather at Caritas Manila’s office in Pandacan, Manila, on All Saints’ Day in 2017. (File photo by RICHARD A. REYES / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

July 19, 2023

MANILA — The decision of the International Criminal Court to deny the Philippine government’s appeal to stop its investigation into the controversial drug war during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is “a step toward justice” for its victims, according to human rights groups.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should support accountability for grave crimes committed during Duterte’s drug war and cooperate with the court, Human Rights Watch, an international nongovernmental group, said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“The ICC appeals chamber decision rejects the Philippine government’s claims that the ICC should not investigate in the country. President Marcos should back up his stated commitment to human rights by cooperating with the ICC prosecutor’s inquiry,” Bryony Lau, Asia deputy director of HRW, said.

“The ICC’s decision is a step toward justice for victims of extrajudicial killings. This is also an opportunity for President Marcos to change course and break away from the culture of abuses and impunity that have long bedeviled the Philippines,” he added.

Likewise, the Center for International Law Philippines (CenterLaw) and the victims it represents welcomed the ruling, calling it an answered prayer for families who are still seeking justice for the death of their loved ones during the drug war.

“This AC (Appeals Chamber) Decision should also remind the Philippine Government that the ICC determination on whether the Philippines exercises its primary jurisdiction to investigate international crimes in its territory is a fact-driven decision,” CenterLaw said in a separate statement.

“[It] affirms the clear fact: that the Philippine Government has not investigated the crimes against humanity committed under the Duterte War on Drugs. There is, thus, no basis for the Philippine Government to insinuate that the ICC is driven by politics or out to usurp its sovereignty,” it added.

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