Human Rights Watch welcomes ICC decision




The Manila Times


THE Human Rights Watch (HRW) Philippines has welcomed the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Appeal Chamber’s rejection of the Philippine government’s appeal to suspend its inquiry into the alleged drug war led by former president Rodrigo Duterte. Carlos Conde, HRW Philippines senior researcher, said the ICC’s rejection of the appeal will benefit the families of the drug war victims. “This is extremely important not just because the families of the victims will be given a voice. It will also provide more information for the ICC that might come up during these interactions,” Conde said in an interview over ANC’s “Rundown” on Tuesday. He emphasized the importance of the testimonies of the witnesses, which will be used to weigh the evidence against the alleged perpetrators. Conde said the testimonies will serve as a context for the violence unleashed by the drug war. “That is important to the ICC. That’s why the families are elated that the victims are being given the chance to participate [in the investigation],” he said. Conde likewise noted that legal proceedings of The Hague-based court will still proceed despite the motion of the government to appeal the probe’s suspension. “Even with all the actions that it wanted to take and with all the [attendant] frustration, the prosecutor can still go on with the investigation,” Conde said. He explained that the ICC’s pretrial chamber will not prejudice any legal action of the Philippine government. Conde’s comments came in the wake of the government’s decision to “disengage from any contact” with the ICC. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday asserted that his administration will “end all our involvement with the ICC” as “there is nothing more that we can do.” “We ended up with the position that we started with. We cannot cooperate with the ICC considering there are very serious questions about their jurisdiction and what we consider to be interference and practically attacks on the sovereignty of the Republic. So, that’s pretty much it,” the Chief Executive told reporters at the sidelines of the Pag-IBIG Chairman’s Event he attended at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. Marcos maintained that his administration has ensured the country’s judicial system is working, and it is enough to investigate the supposed crimes done during the time of Duterte. He also insisted that the ICC has no legal right to probe the Philippines since it is no longer part of the Rome Statute. With the ICC junking the government’s appeal to suspend its probe for failing to cite “persuasive reasons,” Marcos stressed “there is no next move” for the Philippines. “We have no longer any recourse when it comes to the ICC. We have not been involved with the actual action. Merely as a comment, we would comment, and the appeal is part of a comment. But we have not appeared as a party in the ICC because we do not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC,” the President said.