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PH files appeal, insists: ‘ICC has no jurisdiction to probe illegal drugs operations’

Photo Credit: aljazeera.com

The Philippines has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to stop the enforcement of its decision to pursue the investigation on deaths during anti-illegal drugs operations.

In a 51-page appeal brief filed with the ICC’s Appeals Chamber, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) reminded that the Philippines has already withdrawn effective March 17, 2019 as a State party of the Rome Statute that created the ICC.

“The reality is, the Philippine Government has withdrawn from the Rome Statute and the Court does not have jurisdiction over the situation,” the OSG told the Appeals Chamber.

The appeal was filed in response to the decision of the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I that granted the request of the ICC Prosecutor’s Office to resume its investigation into the drug war killings that took place from July 1, 2016 up to March 16, 2019.

Specifically, the OSG asked the Appeals Chamber to “grant suspensive effect pending resolution of this appeal, reverse the ‘Authorization pursuant to Article 18(2) of the Statute to resume investigation,’ determine that the Prosecution is not authorized to resume its investigations in the Situation in the Republic of the Philippines.”

Even while seeking to stop the investigation, the OSG assured “the Philippine Government remains committed to the goals of the Court…”

It pointed out that “the Philippine Government has openly recognized its responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes which occurred in connection to the anti-illegal drugs campaign and continued to willingly engage with the Court following its withdrawal which took effect on 17 March 2019.”

It added that the government has also previously informed the ICC that “it is investigating or has investigated its nationals or others within its jurisdiction with respect to the alleged crimes against humanity of murder under Article 7(1)(a) of the Statute committed throughout the Philippines between 1 July 2016 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the so-called ‘war on drugs’ campaign, as well as in the Davao area between 1 November 2011 and 30 June 2016.”

But the OSG lamented that the Philippine government’s “efforts were not fully credited and its offer to maintain cooperation was unreasonably cut short.”

The OSG also said in its appeal:

“By applying a higher threshold or a greater degree of overlap, the Impugned Decision effectively defeated the purpose of Article 18 and its central role within the complementarity regime. This is a regime which epitomizes the character of the Court itself and conveys a framework whereby the Court and State work in unison whilst preserving a State’s primary right, and indeed responsibility, to investigate and prosecute crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction.

“Article 18 was intended to create space for dialogue between a State and the Prosecution as a means to achieve the overall goal of the Court to end impunity, with both the State and Prosecution permitted to request additional information in the context of Article 18.

“The imposition of a higher threshold at this stage however cuts this dialogue off and establishes a rigid requirement which obliges domestic authorities to copy exactly the Prosecution’s investigation despite the fact that the contours of Prosecution’s investigation are yet to be formalized.

“Most concerning, it also places the Court in a position which judges national systems and seeks to scrutinize substantive and procedural processes of a State at a very early stage in the investigation.”

— Jeffrey Damicog

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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