Gov’t disputes points of ICC chief prosecutor
The Philippines has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) appeals chamber for leave to reply to Prosecutor Karim Khan’s latest response to its appeal brief against the resumption of the investigation into the drug war killings under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.
In its request for leave to reply, dated April 11, government lawyers, led by Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, said the Philippine government “proposes to file a focused reply at a date to be determined by the Appeals Chamber.”
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) said it has identified five discrete issues which would warrant a reply, saying they either concern new issues “which could not have been reasonably anticipated by the Philippine government, and/or require a limited reply which is necessary for the adjudication of the appeal.”
It claimed that the Philippines “has not been afforded the same opportunities made available to other States at either the article 15 or article 18 stage.”
“As a result, the material and submissions it has provided have often been overlooked or misrepresented despite the fact that this litigation goes toward preserving its sovereignty rights,” the OSG said in its request.
“The issues identified would provide necessary clarification of the legal and factual arguments put forward by the prosecution and would allow for the proper adjudication of each of the four grounds of appeal,” it added.
In a 59-page response filed on April 4, Khan disputed most of the arguments raised by the OSG in its March 4 appeals brief opposing the resumption of the ICC probe into the alleged crimes against humanity committed by Duterte and his aides.
Among others, the OSG argued that the ICC did not correctly assess the gravity of the Philippine case to justify further action from the court.
Khan reiterated that “extremely serious” crimes were committed and “appear to have been encouraged and condoned” by Duterte himself and other top officials of his administration.
In an earlier statement, Guevarra said that the Hague-based court’s rejection of the government’s request to suspend its probe into the bloody drug war will have “serious and far-reaching” consequences on the Philippines.
He also reiterated that the Philippines “is not legally and morally bound to cooperate with the ICC.”
Guevarra, who was justice secretary during the Duterte administration, also chided the ICC earlier apparently for not following its own principle of complementarity.
“Complementarity means the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute belongs to the member states. Your (ICC) role is simply complementary. Only when there is no genuine investigation and prosecution being conducted by the domestic institutions may you come in, but you are coming in despite the fact that we are doing what needs to be done in a genuine manner,” he said.