ICC Prosecutor Suspends Philippine War on Drugs Investigation

Activists take part in a rally to protest the escalating war on drugs of President Rodrigo Duterte, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, the Philippines, August 18, 2017. REUTERS / Dondi Tawatao / File Photo

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THE HAGUE, Nov. 19 (Reuters) – The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, has temporarily suspended an investigation into alleged rights violations during the drug crackdown by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, according to documents released Friday.

ICC judges in September approved an investigation into the campaign in which thousands of suspected drug traffickers died. Activists say many have been executed by law enforcement with the president’s tacit support. Read more

Authorities in the Philippines say the killings were committed in self-defense and that the ICC has no right to interfere.

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According to court documents, Khan wrote that Manila filed a postponement request on November 10. Governments can ask the ICC to postpone a case if they carry out their own investigations and prosecutions for the same acts.

“The prosecution has temporarily suspended its investigative activities while it assesses the scope and effect of the postponement request,” Khan wrote, adding that he would seek further information from the Philippines.

The Duterte government has repeatedly stated that it will not cooperate with the ICC. Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the ICC in 2018, but the court has jurisdiction to investigate crimes committed while Manila was a member and until 2019.

In nearly two decades of existence, the ICC has convicted five men of war crimes and crimes against humanity, all heads of African militias from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Uganda.

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Reporting by Stéphanie van den Berg; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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