New bar passers urged to help ICC in drug war probe
MANILA, Philippines — A lawyer for some of the surviving families of the drug war has challenged new bar passers to use their new licenses before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Well, nothing as grand as squaring up against the Philippine government. But rather, lawyer Kristina Conti challenged them to help willing victims of the drug war submit their representations before the court.
“How about new lawyers help the ICC in the pending appeal on the investigation of the Philippine ‘war on drugs?’ If you know a victim, please help them out,” she said.
Conti is referring to a recent decision by the ICC appeals chamber, which allowed victims to file their comments and views on the Philippine government’s petition against the resumption of an investigation of the drug war. In ruling so, the chamber said it “considered it appropriate for victims to be involved in the appeals proceedings.”
The chamber directed all interested victims to submit their representations by May 8, 2023. Conti said there was no strict format for these views and concerns, but “victims can comment on the points raised by the Philippines (jurisdiction, admissibility, gravity).”
Among others, she said, new lawyers can help victims navigate questions, such as what had changed for them since losing someone to the drug war, and whether they believe the Philippine government was properly investigating the killings, arrests, and rights abuses related to the “war on drugs.”
Victims may also be expected to answer whether they have accessed, or tried, legal mechanisms in the Philippines to pursue justice, she said.
More importantly, the victims should be able to answer whether they believe the ICC should step in and investigate and determine who is “most responsible,” Conti said.
She classifies a victim as someone harmed in the war on drugs: widow/widower and children of killed, survivor of shooting, arrested, detained, in the “drug list” and/or publicly named as connected to the drug trade, forced to confess or point out a user or pusher, owner of house raided, among others.
Meanwhile, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines will launch on Monday the IBP Pro Bono Portal, its first web-based platform that aims to cater to indigent Filipinos in need of legal aid.
The development of the PBP was made possible through the United States Agency for International Development-supported “Access to Justice and Support for the Rule of Law” program of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative.