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ICC lets victims participate in appeal proceedings of drug probe, denies PH access to their identities

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has allowed alleged victims of the drug war under the Duterte administration to present their views on the government’s opposition to the resumption of the tribunal’s investigation into the bloody campaign.

In a statement issued on March 21, the ICC’s Appeals Chamber also denied the government access to these documents and the identities of the people who file them, saying this was unnecessary.  However, it granted the Philippines’ request to be informed of all public and confidential filings related to the proceedings on the government’s appeal to stop the ICC probe.

“The Appeals Chamber is not persuaded that there is any need for the Philippines to ‘scrutiniz[e] the submissions’ of victims in the manner indicated in the request at this stage of the proceedings. In particular, the procedure adopted in these proceedings for verification of victims’ representations does not involve the Philippines,” it stated.

Noting that it is “appropriate” for the victims to participate in the deliberations on the government’s appeal to reverse the ICC’s decision to continue its investigation, the Appeals Chamber ordered the victims to submit their statements by April 18 to the Victims’ Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS).

The VPRS, an office under the ICC’s Registry that assists victims of crimes against humanity in their applications for participation in proceedings and requesting reparations, must then collect these statements and submit a report by May 22.  Some 90 victims of drug-related killings and other crimes had submitted an anonymous request for inclusion in the appeal proceedings to the VPRS last month.  (Read Families of drug war victims seek permission to air side on PH appeal vs. ICC probe)

In the same ruling, the Appeals Chamber gave permission to the Public Counsel for Victims, an independent office that offers support and legal assistance, to submit its observations of the “general interest” of the victims also by April 18.

The Philippines filed on March 13 its appeal brief to freeze the ICC investigation, noting “legal errors” in its decision. (Read PH notes errors in ICC ruling on drug probe, presses for reversal)

Read the Appeals Chambers’ full decision here.