No reason to bar ICC probers, says SolGen
There’s no reason to bar representatives of the International Criminal Court (ICC) from entering the country so long as they do not do anything illegal in the country, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said on Friday.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Guevarra, who was justice secretary from 2018 to 2022, added that it was up to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Bureau of Immigrations (BI) whether they would let ICC representatives enter the country.
But he pointed out that the country’s immigration laws have “a wide latitude of discretion on the part of our immigration authorities to admit or not to admit certain persons whom they think may be considered undesirable.”
Last July, the ICC Appeals Chamber decided to allow the investigation of alleged crimes against humanity during the bloody “war on drugs” under former President Rodrigo Duterte and rejected Manila’s plea to discontinue the probe on the grounds of jurisdiction.
“From my point of view for as long as there will be no [illegal] activities to be conducted here, that they have the proper travel documents, I do not see any reason why they should be prevented from coming in because they’re going to interview certain persons, gather certain documents, so forth and so on,” Guevarra said.
Human Rights Day
He also told the Inquirer on Friday that collecting documents such as affidavits, are not considered illegal activities.
“For as long as the ICC investigator does not perform any illegal acts here, he will not be prohibited from conducting his investigation,” Guevarra said, referring to ICC prosecutor Karim Khan.
Meanwhile, human rights organizations said they would highlight the demand for justice to victims of the Duterte’s drug war in this year’s commemoration of the International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.
Cristina Palabay, secretary general of human rights group Karapatan, said on Friday that this year’s activities would also highlight the possible revival of peace talks with communist insurgents.
The main program for the country’s commemoration of International Human Rights Day will be held at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila and to be followed by a march going to Mendiola, she said.
“Our goal for this year’s activities is to make the voices louder for those affected [by human rights violations] and the Filipino people, to hold accountable former President Duterte and those behind the drug war,” Palabay told the Inquirer in an interview.
She said their activities with other organizations will also call on the current administration to cooperate with the ICC in its investigation of the Duterte drug war.
‘Climate of impunity’
“I think that is part of our call for justice, considering the climate of impunity here in the country [and] of course, we know that the justice system—a part of it—are able to prosecute, but there is no political will,” Palabay said, noting the low conviction rate involving drug war cases.
“Our justice system is simply broken because there is no political will, we can’t hold anyone accountable so that is why the ICC’s investigation should be cooperated with, if [President] Marcos really believes in justice and accountability, they have to cooperate,” she added.
The program on Dec. 10 will also highlight the revival of peace talks after both the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) announced that they would resume negotiations.
On the concern of human rights, Palabay said they will highlight the call for the release of over 700 political prisoners nationwide, including 17 peace consultants for the NDFP.