war on drugs

Guevarra: ICC prosecutor should have given gov’t more time to show results


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Guevarra: ICC prosecutor should have given gov’t more time to show results

FORMER DOJ CHIEF. A file photo of former justice secretary Menardo Guevarra in a meeting at the Palace with former president Rodrigo Roa Duterte on January 4, 2022.

Alberto Alcain/Presidential Photo

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra says International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan should have given the government time to produce results first even as he calls move to lift the suspension of the investigation premature

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday, June 26, responded to International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan’s move to ask the international tribunal’s pre-trial chamber (PTC) for a green light to resume the investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity committed in the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs.

Guevarra said Khan should have given the Department of Justice (DOJ) time to produce results first, adding that the move to lift the suspension of the investigation was premature.

He said, “I respect his view but I think he should have waited for our efforts to bear some fruit. An investigation of this magnitude and complexity cannot be finished in a few months.”

Guevarra said the ICC prosecutor should trust the DOJ and other government agencies as they undertake the proceedings about the killings related to the government’s campaign against the illicit drug trade. 

The DOJ started its investigation in 2021 and has since elevated to courts five of the 52 cases under review. 

The cases under review by the justice department involve some 150 police officers.  

On November 20, 2021, the ICC prosecutor deferred its investigation into the thousands of deaths that resulted from anti-illegal drug operations upon the request of the government as the justice department and other agencies started looking into 52 cases between 2016 to 2021. 

The DOJ’s official review started in November 2021, two months after President Rodrigo Duterte delivered a speech before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).  

Duterte had claimed that he instructed the DOJ and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to review the way the government’s anti-drug campaign was carried out even as he promised to make those who may have committed excesses accountable.  

The DOJ said earlier that there were also 250 cases more that would be forwarded to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for investigation and case build-up. 

“I hope the incoming Secretary of Justice will complete what I’ve begun,” Guevarra said. 

The justice secretary would be replaced by Cavite 7th District Representative Jesus Crispin Remulla on June 30.

Guevarra is also the choice of president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for the position of solicitor-general.

In a statement on Saturday, June 25, Khan expressed doubt about the sincerity of the government in investigating and bringing those who erred to justice.   

“The various proceedings referenced by the Philippines also fail to sufficiently mirror the authorized ICC investigation, as required by Articles 17 and 18 of the Rome Statute, because the Philippines has not asserted that it is investigating any conduct occurring in Davao from 2011 to 2016, any crimes other than murder, any killings outside official police operations, any responsibility of mid- or high-level perpetrators, or any systematic conduct or State policy,” said Khan as he moved for the resumption of the investigation.

He also took note of “a relatively small number of past or ongoing criminal investigations and prosecutions that appear to fall within the parameters of the ICC investigation.”  

Khan said the government also “failed to provide any documentation to substantiate that the investigations are ongoing or complete, nor any details regarding concrete investigative or prosecutorial steps that have been taken.” – Rappler.com

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