CHR clarifies: We have no role, no ties in impending ICC probe on Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will not play a role in the impending International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation about the possible commission of crimes against humanity during the government’s war against illegal drugs, its chairperson said on Thursday
During the deliberation of its budget before the House of Representatives’ committee on appropriations, CHR Chairperson Jose Luis Gascon explained that the mandate of the CHR stems from the 1987 Constitution; hence, its role is within the bounds of the country.
On the other hand, the ICC’s power comes from the Rome Statute, the international treaty that instituted what may constitute as a crime against humanity.
“That is a matter entirely within the control and operations of the [ICC] as such. There is no direct or immediate relationship of the work of the [CHR] with the operations that will be taken by the Office of the Prosecutor as it conducts its investigation,” Gascon said.
“The reason being, your honors, is our mandate, is within the mandate of our constitution and our laws. Their (ICC) mandate is with respect to the Rome Treaty, and what’s called the international crimes defined in that treaty. And so we will have to just wait and see if there will be a request your honors,” he added.
According to Gascon, there were previous incidents where ICC probed an incident in a country which has its own national human rights institutions. However, there was little interaction between the official human rights institution and the ICC.
Still, the CHR chief said that they would respond to queries should a request arrive, especially since some of the incidents that may be discussed by the ICC may have been investigated already by the CHR.
“We understand in previous investigations in other countries where there are also institutions like us, the national human rights institutions na tinatawag, in the conduct of the investigation of the ICC there was very little, if at all, interaction between the ICC and the NHRI,” Gascon explained.
“Nonetheless, your honors, should we receive a formal communication and a formal request from the ICC, we will take whatever they present to us in that formal request under consideration — at the appropriate time. Right now it is speculative, your honor,” he noted.
The ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber on Wednesday night (Manila time) announced that they have approved the request of former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for judicial authority to proceed with a probe on the crimes against humanity complaint filed versus President Rodrigo Duterte.
Bensouda sought judicial authority last June 14, days after she stepped down from her post, after concluding that that based on information gathered by her office, there is reason to believe that state actors have killed thousands of civilians under the war against illegal drugs.
She also noted that the information suggests that vigilante-style killings were perpetrated by police officers themselves or other private individuals hired by authorities — leading to a death toll of between 12,000 to 30,000 civilians.
The investigations would be done by Bensouda’s successor, Karim Khan.
Complaints against Duterte for his bloody drug war were filed by several rights groups and sectors critical of his anti-illegal drugs campaign like the Rise Up for Life and Rights, which is composed of drug war victims’ relatives and other rights advocates.
According to the group, Duterte has violated Article 7 of the Rome Statute for “widespread and systematic attacks in the form of murder of thousands of civilians.
Late lawyer Jude Sabio also filed a separate complaint, which he later on retracted as it was supposedly being used for the political propaganda of the opposition.
Then in December 2020, ICC said that it had a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity were committed in the drug war.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.