Sep 16, 2021 - World

ICC authorizes full investigation into Duterte's deadly drugs war

 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the annual state of the nation address at the House of Representatives in Manila on July 26

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gives a national address at the House of Representatives in Manila in July . Photo: Lisa Marie David/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The International Criminal Court (ICC) formally authorized on Wednesday an official investigation into alleged crimes against humanity during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of people may have been killed in police drug operations in the Philippines since 2016, a United Nations report found last year.

Details: The ICC said in a statement on Wednesday that after considering the evidence of at least 204 victims, there's "reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation, noting that specific legal element of the crime against humanity of murder" had been met.

  • The Hague-based tribunal added that "the so-called 'war on drugs' campaign cannot be seen as a legitimate law enforcement operation, and the killings neither as legitimate nor as mere excesses in an otherwise legitimate operation."
  • The evidence suggests that a "widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population took place pursuant to or in furtherance of a state policy," the ICC added.

The big picture: The ICC launched a preliminary inquiry in 2018 into Duterte and his war on drugs following allegations of crimes against humanity.

  • Former ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda recommended a full investigation into the allegations just before stepping down last June.

What they're saying: Officials reiterated on Thursday that Duterte wouldn't cooperate because the Philippines was no longer a member of the ICC.

  • Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo told local media that the government "will not let in any ICC member to collect information and evidence here in the Philippines," per AFP.
  • "They will be barred entry," Panelo added.
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