On ICC Chief Prosecutor Bensouda’s request to formally investigate Duterte’s crimes against humanity

The announcement of outgoing International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that she is formally requesting an investigation into the crimes against humanity committed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s sham and bloody war on drugs is a long-awaited step towards justice and accountability. Moreover, it is yet another damning indictment of the Duterte government’s murderous policies that have killed — and continue to kill — thousands of Filipinos with impunity.

Karapatan, together with the families of the victims of the drug war and other human rights advocates, welcomes this significant and much-needed development amid the backdrop of the rapidly deteriorating human rights crisis in the Philippines.

Despite the various efforts of government agencies to dissuade the growing calls for an international investigation into the Philippines, Bensouda’s conclusions in her request published yesterday, June 14, only makes clear that these killings “appear to have been committed pursuant to an official State policy of the Philippine government” along with “Philippine authorities’ failure to take meaningful steps to investigate or prosecute perpetrators” of the killings in the drug war — highlighting the sheer limitations and failure, if not virtual non-existence, of domestic and independent mechanisms of accountability.

We now strongly urge the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber to grant Bensouda’s request as we call on incoming ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan to pursue the investigation into the human rights crisis in the Philippines and to hold President Duterte and all officials involved in the drug war accountable for their crimes against the Filipino people.

Cristina Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General

The public redacted version of ICC Chief Prosecutor Bensouda’s request for authorization is available here: https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/record.aspx?docNo=ICC-01/21-7-Red