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LAWYERS’ GROUP HITS DOJ REVIEW

Flag appeals ICC halt of drug war probe

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 04:50 AM November 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The review conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on 52 out of tens of thousands of drug war killings in the country did not justify the suspension of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) inquiry into President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, a group of human rights lawyers said.

In a letter dated Nov. 21, the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) informed ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan that none of the cases scrutinized by the DOJ were from the period of Nov. 1, 2011, to June 30, 2016,—which was the basis for the Pre-trial Chamber of the ICC to approve an investigation into the complaint of crimes against humanity against Duterte, who was mayor at that time.

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FLAG further noted that the DOJ was looking into 36 cases covering the period of July 1, 2016, to March 16, 2019. According to the group’s president, Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, the cases examined by the DOJ represented less than 1 percent of the number of individuals slain during that period.

“In [our] view, it is misleading to label the DOJ actions as an ‘investigation’ since it appears that the DOJ merely conducted a review of the documents provided by the Internal Affairs Service of the [Philippine National Police],” read Diokno’s letter to Khan.

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“The DOJ ‘investigation’ adverted to in the Philippines’ deferral letter covers only a fraction of the killings or attempted killings which occurred within the scope of the ICC investigation,” he said.

“Even worse,” Diokno lamented, “not a single case was referred for prosecution.”

He also criticized the DOJ for asking families of drug war victims to provide evidence that they were unjustly killed by the police, when the Supreme Court had clearly placed the “burden” of justifying the killings on state agents.

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Khan’s decision to suspend the probe was prompted by a letter dated Nov. 10 by Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Eduardo Malaya seeking a suspension.

Malaya claimed that the government, through the DOJ review panel, was already addressing the issues raised in the complaint before the ICC against the President.

But Diokno said the DOJ’s efforts failed to satisfy the minimum requirements set by the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death.

The manual, adopted by the United Nations in 2016, provided international guidelines in investigating questionable killings committed by state agents.

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“Witnesses or survivors were not interviewed; family members did not participate in the DOJ ‘investigation,’ contrary to the requisites of the Minnesota Protocol,” Diokno said.

Sought for comment, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said: “[M]ay I request these people to lend us a helping hand so that we can bring about justice in our land faster? That is our common aspiration.” INQ

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TAGS: crimes against humanity, drug war killings, Flag, ICC drug war probe, Rodrigo Duterte
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