June 15, 2021
“The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) praises today’s announcement by the International Criminal Court (ICC) that it will formally seek an investigation into the Philippine government’s deadly ‘war on drugs’”, said ICHRP spokesperson Mr. Peter Murphy.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that she has concluded her preliminary examination of the Philippines and is seeking authorisation from the Court’s judges for a full investigation into the crime against humanity of murder committed in connection with the country’s ‘war on drugs’ between 1 July 2016 and 16 March 2019, and torture and other inhumane acts, and related events as early as 1 November 2011.
“ICHRP sees this announcement as a positive step that may help bring some measure of justice to the thousands victimized and terrorized by the Duterte Regime’s so-called ‘war on drugs’. Justice may also come to those who are victimized by Duterte government’s war on Islamic communities and war on dissent,” said Mr Murphy.
“The United Nations Human Rights Council must now initiate a long overdue independent investigation into the Philippines to examine crimes under international law and other serious violations of human rights committed over the full duration of the Duterte administration, including its so-called war on drugs. The perpetrators and architects of these crimes must be held to account,” said Mr Murphy.
The ICC announcement follows the recently launched independent civil society commission of investigation (Investigate PH), which has been examining the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines including and beyond the so-called war on drugs. The first report of Investigate PH was delivered to the UNHRC by ICHRP in March 2021, which highlighted many of the issues that will be tackled by the International Criminal Court.
Duterte’s state-orchestrated killings amount to crimes against humanity
The case against the Duterte government is already well documented, including by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Investigate PH. Reports have been published on major investigations detailing ongoing extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations by the police and their superiors. Despite the continued broad exposure of the human rights situation by domestic and international human rights organizations, however, the killings continue unabated.
Since the beginning of the Duterte administration in July 2016, thousands of people mostly from poor and marginalized communities have been killed – either by the police or by armed individuals suspected to have links to the police. These killings have been conducted by state institutions with impunity, and there is a clear lack or absence of effective domestic remedies to stop the killings.
Evidence emerging from Investigate PH’s second round of hearings in May 2021 supports the charge that institutions of the state are being used as instruments of terror to organize and execute extra judicial killings.
“Further action from the international community is urgently needed,” said Mr Murphy. Instead of taking positive action when informed of these systemic and widespread human rights violations, and recognizing the complicity of the Philippine Government, the UN Human Rights Council voted to provide technical cooperation and capacity-building to the same government that has publicly endorsed the policy of killings, avoided independent investigations, and continued its crackdown on civil society. “ICHRP calls on the UN Human Rights Council to act now, and to send a strong message that it too will no longer allow the Philippine government to continue its campaign of human rights violations with impunity,” concluded Mr. Murphy.