ICC posturing: Assault on country’s sovereignty (5)

Hereunder is the statement in full of Special Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on 14 June 2021 in connection with her request for permission to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a formal investigation on the Philippine situation:


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.

As I stated in December 2019, at the annual session of the Assembly of States Parties, before I end my term as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, I intend to reach determinations on all situations that have been under preliminary examination during my tenure, as far as I am able to do so in accordance with my obligations under the Rome Statute. In that statement, I also indicated the high likelihood that several preliminary examinations would progress to the investigative stage.

The situation in the Philippines has been under preliminary examination since 8 February 2018. During that time, my Office has been busy analyzing a large amount of publicly available information and information provided to us under Article 15 of the Statute. On the basis of that work, I have determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder has been committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 July 2016 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the Government of Philippines “war on drugs” campaign. The Office does not take a position on any government’s internal policies and initiatives intended to address the production, distribution and consumption of psychoactive substances within the parameters of the law and due process of law, and in the present case, it is duly acting strictly in accordance with its specific and clearly defined mandate and obligations under the Statute. Following a thorough preliminary examination process, the available information indicates that members of the Philippine National Police, and others acting in concert with them, have unlawfully killed between several thousand and tens of thousands of civilians during that time. My Office has also reviewed information related to allegations of torture and other inhumane acts, and related events as early as 1 November 2011, the beginning of the Court’s jurisdiction in the Philippines, all of which we believe require investigation.

Aware of the complex operational challenges that will be faced by the Office if an investigation is authorized by the Pre-Trial Chamber, we have also been taking a number of measures to collect and preserve evidence, in anticipation of a possible investigation. These steps have been taken within the scope of the statutory powers entrusted to the Prosecutor by the Rome Statute at the preliminary examination stage, and where appropriate, we have sought and obtained judicial authorization to do so. Indeed, in recent years, Pre-Trial Chambers of the Court have increasingly stressed the importance of utilizing the full range of powers that may be available to the Court prior to the initiation of an investigation to preserve evidence and protect persons who may be at risk. We have acted diligently in conformity with this judicial guidance.

Having reached this determination and implemented these measures, some of which were delayed by the onset of the global pandemic, on 12 April 2021, I notified the Presidency of my intention to file a request pursuant to Article 15 of the Statute, which I proceeded to file on 24 May 2021. Today, I have filed a public redacted version of the request, in the interests of transparency and also to provide notice to the victims as foreseen in Rule 50(1) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Court.

(To be continued)

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