Rodrigo Duterte: ICC prosecutor aims to reopen investigation into Philippines drug war

The court had suspended the investigation in November at Manila’s request, and Philippine officials have cited their own investigations into the killings. Governments can ask the ICC to defer a case if they are carrying out their own investigations and prosecutions for the same acts.

“After a careful and thorough review of all the information provided by the Philippines, as well as other information available to the public… I concluded that the postponement requested by the Philippines was not justified and that the investigation should be resumed as soon as possible,” Prosecutor General Karim Khan said in a statement.

According to Philippine government data, security forces have killed 6,117 drug dealers in stinging operations from the time Duterte took office in 2016 until the end of April 2021.

International Criminal Court prosecutor suspends investigation into drug war in the Philippines

Rights groups say authorities have summarily executed drug suspects, but police say drug dealers have fought back violently.

Former International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who resigned last year, said there were reasonable grounds to believe crimes against humanity were committed during Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, whose death toll sparked international outrage.

Duterte’s administration has disputed the claims by rights groups and the ICC investigation, saying the Philippines is no longer a member. Duterte rescinded the Philippines’ membership in the ICC’s founding treaty in March 2018.

But under the ICC’s Withdrawal Mechanism, the court retains jurisdiction over crimes committed during the country’s term of membership — in this case, between 2016 and 2019, when the Philippines’ withdrawal became official.

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