ICC aims to decide by 2020 on need to probe PH drug killings

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) said it seeks to conclude its preliminary examination on the country's war on drugs by next year to see if there is a need for an investigation. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 5) — The International Criminal Court (ICC) said it seeks to conclude its preliminary examination on the country's war on drugs by next year to see if there is a need for an investigation.

In a report published Thursday the court said it has advanced its rigorous research on the alleged human rights violations in the Philippines to check if there is basis to conduct the probe. This is in light of reports and complaints of thousands of so-called extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drug campaign.

"During 2020, the Office will aim to finalise the preliminary examination in order to enable the Prosecutor to reach a decision on whether to seek authorisation to open an investigation into the situation in the Philippines," it said in its "preliminary examination activities" report for 2019.

The ICC maintained it still has jurisdiction over cases that fall within the country's stay in the Statute which started in 2011. The Philippines submitted a notice of withdrawal from the ICC on March 17, 2018 which then took effect a year later. The court said its preliminary examination, which was launched in February 2018, focuses on the cases from the beginning of Duterte's war on drugs on July 1, 2016 until March 16 this year.

The government recently pegged the number of deaths that resulted from the campaign to 6,600 but human rights groups cite higher figures.

Duterte has repeatedly maintained that international bodies and officials have no right to oversee how he runs the country given that they have limited knowledge on what goes on in the Philippines. Foreign affairs chief Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin had also argued that the ICC "weaponizes" human rights to defend the illegal drug trade.