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ICC appeals chamber junks PH bid to suspend drug war probe

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court has rejected the Philippine government's bid for the suspension of the ICC prosecutor's investigation into the killings in the war on drugs.

The decision came days after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on March 13 filed an appeals brief which sought the reversal of the ICC's decision to resume the probe into the Duterte administration's anti-drugs campaign.

The government through the OSG had asked the ICC to suspend the investigation while the appeal was ongoing; to suspend the authorization of the ICC to investigate; and to determine that the Prosecution is not authorized to conduct an investigation.

"The Appeals Chamber rejects the request of the Republic of the Philippines for suspensive effect of the aforementioned decision of Pre-Trial Chamber I," read the decision signed by Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut.

The Chamber reviewed the following documents: the Philippine government’s notice to appeal; the response of the Prosecutor to the notice; and the Philippine government’s appeals brief.

The Chamber said that the Philippine government failed to explain the Court’s lack of jurisdiction or to provide explanation of the implications and scope of investigation.

It also pointed out that the local investigation can proceed even with the ongoing ICC investigation.

The Philippine government had alleged that the ICC lacks jurisdiction and that the investigation is an encroachment on the sovereignty of the Philippines.

“The Appeals Chamber notes that while the Philippines provides its supporting arguments with respect to the absence of the Court’s jurisdiction in the Philippines Situation under the first ground of appeal, it fails to explain how the alleged absence of jurisdictional or legal basis for the resumption of the Prosecutor’s activities pending the resolution of the appeal would 'defeat its very purpose and create an irreversible situation that could not be corrected'.”

The Chamber also noted the government’s failure to explain alleged “far-reaching and inimical consequences or implications of the Prosecutor’s activities on suspects, witnesses and victims.”

“The Philippines fails to provide any explanation as to what those implications may be and how the broad scope of the Prosecutor’s investigation at this stage of the proceedings would lead to consequences that 'would be very difficult to correct and may be irreversible'.”

"Lastly, the Appeals Chamber notes that as far as national investigations are concerned, the Philippines is in a position to continue its investigations irrespective of the ongoing proceedings before the Court,” it added.

Earlier, the ICC Appeals Chamber allowed the victims of the war on drugs in the Philippines to present their views and concerns as regards the government's appeal of the resumption of its investigation into the killings.

In a 22-page decision dated March 21, the chamber ordered the ICC Victims Participation and Reparations Section to collect and transmit representations from any interested victims and victim groups and prepare and submit a report.  NB/BAP/BM, GMA Integrated News