On the eve of the end of his term, outgoing International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda shocked Filipinos when he announced Monday night (in the Philippines) that he was seeking permission to investigate the war on drugs in the Philippines.
“Today, I announce that the preliminary examination into the situation in the Republic of the Philippines has concluded and that I have requested judicial authorization to proceed with an investigation,” said Bensouda.
She said that in her initial exposure to the drug war issue, she obtained enough evidence to believe that the accusation that there was a crime against humanity of murder in the Philippines from July 2016 to March 2019 was well-founded.
Bensouda wants to give her office the authority of the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber to conduct a more thorough investigation.
In her letter to the chamber, Bensouda shared heavy observations.
“Information obtained by the Prosecution suggests that state actors, primarily members of the Philippine security forces, killed thousands of suspected drug users and other civilians during official law enforcement operations,” she said.
“Markedly similar crimes were committed outside official police operations, reportedly by so-called ‘vigilantes,’ although information suggests that some vigilantes were in fact police officers, while others were private citizens recruited, coordinated, and paid by police to kill civilians,” she added.
ICC prosecutor wants to probe drug war
She estimates that between 12,000 and 30,000 were killed from July 2016 to March 2019.
Bensouda further insisted that the killings were apparently carried out in accordance with the orders of government officials.
“State officials at the highest levels of government also spoke publicly and repeatedly in support of extrajudicial killings, and created a culture of impunity for those who committed them,” she said.
Aside from the killings in 2016 to 2019, Bensouda also wants to preview the killings in Davao in 2011 that are suspiciously similar to drug war killings.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated that the authorities’ anti-drug operations records could not be made public.
He said that there is a lot of information that the public should not know, at the same time pointing out that it is possible that the records of the operation even include human rights advocates who are themselves questioning the drug war.