‘Temporary Suspension of ICC investigation rewards Duterte and further victimizes those who gave evidence in support of ICC probe ’global coalition on human rights.
ICHRP Chairperson Peter Murphy expressed the organization’s “extreme disappointment with the ICC decision to temporarily suspend their investigation into the Duterte government’s alleged crimes especially after the Prosecutor found credible evidence that crimes against humanity had occurred. Any suspension or delay is an absolute betrayal of those brave individuals who came forward at great personal risk to provide evidence and testimony regarding these alleged crimes.”
The ICC has suspended its investigation after a November 10th request by the Philippine government which stated that it has begun its own review of 52 cases where police killed suspects during anti-drug operations.
“The findings of the First and Second Reports of the Independent International Commission of Investigation into Human Rights Violations in the Philippines (Investigate PH) clearly showed the flaws and failure of the domestic remedies now claimed to be operating,” said Murphy.
The Investigation demonstrated that the Philippine courts had managed to convict two police officers for the 2017 murder of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos – one case in the 6,011 officially recorded up to the end of 2020. This case only succeeded because the Barangay Captain had failed to switch off the CCTV which recorded the police abduction of Kian.
Investigate PH also dispelled the Philippine government claims that the thousands of victims of the war on drugs were killed by police in self-defence. It presented forensic evidence to the ICC of victims with defensive wounds, of victims who had been bound before being killed. But there are probably over 30,000 cases of these police killings in anti-drug operations, based on statistics of “Deaths Under Investigation”. And now the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency no longer reports deaths in anti-drug operations, on their Real Numbers PH webpage.
“This kind of review – of 5,655 cases – was first promised by the Secretary of Justice to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2020,” said Murphy.
In February 2021 Secretary Guevarra reported that just 328 cases had been reviewed, revealing no proper crime scene investigation in more than half the cases. In May 2021, he reported that the PNP had given access to files on 61 cases, but by June 1, 2021, the police had cut this number to 53. It seems this number has been reduced to 52. This is well below 1 per cent of deaths in police anti-drug operations. “There is no way that this level of inquiry – most unlikely to be genuine – amounts to an investigation of the crime against humanity of murder which the ICC was investigating,” said Murphy.
“The ICC needs to re-start its investigation of all the evidence it has before it and give justice to the tens of thousands of Filipinos murdered at President Duterte’s repeated incitement.
“ICHRP has full confidence in the impartiality of the ICC. We reiterate that the ICC should heed the call of these families to fully investigate the Duterte administration for these crimes against humanity so that, finally, justice may be served and impunity ended,” Murphy said.
Murphy, an Australian-based human rights advocate, led Investigate PH, a recent three-part investigation by an international commission on the extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests, abductions, and disappearances in the Philippines since 2016 when President Duterte came into power. #