The Philippines has asked the International Criminal Court to postpone its investigation of crimes against humanity related to the country’s deadly “war on drugs”.
In a letter to the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor Karim Khan on November 10, the Philippines argued that it was already investigating these crimes and therefore the International Court of Justice has no jurisdiction.
“The court can only exercise jurisdiction when the national legal system cannot exercise jurisdiction, which is certainly not the case in the Philippines,” the letter said when citing domestic investigations.
Khan said that although his investigation was authorized by a court judge more than two months ago and must now be temporarily suspended, his office “will continue to analyze the information it already has and any new information that may be received from a third party.”
The International Criminal Court is the last resort for cases that countries are unwilling or unable to prosecute. According to court regulations, if a country is already investigating a crime, it can request the postponement of the investigation.
Khan said in a statement that countries seeking extensions need to provide evidence that they have taken “concrete and incremental investigation steps” against criminal suspects or suspects involved in crimes.
He said that he will ask the Philippines to “provide substantive information about the investigation and litigation,” which it mentioned in its request for an extension.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte argued that the crackdown was “legitimately targeted at drug dealers and drug dealers who have destroyed contemporary people over the years, especially young people.”
According to the government’s statement, more than 6,000 drug suspects, mostly poor, were killed, but human rights organizations said the death toll was much higher and should include unresolved killings where many motorcycle gunmen may have been deployed by the police.
Duterte denied condoning extrajudicial executions of drug suspects, even though he publicly threatened to kill the suspects and ordered the police to shoot those suspects who were dangerously resisting arrest.
The judge said in September that there was a “reasonable basis for investigation” and that as part of the anti-drug war, killings in various parts of the Philippines appeared to constitute crimes against humanity in the court’s founding statute.