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FACT CHECK NED FC THE ICC PROBE Duterte's Drug war

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: For the second time, Justice secretary’s claim on ICC jurisdiction over PH needs context

The International Criminal Court no longer has jurisdiction over the Philippines following its withdrawal from the Rome Statute.

Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla 2022-10-11 Needs Context

Article 127, paragraph 2 of the Rome Statute, the treaty that founded the ICC, provides that a country that has withdrawn is not cleared of its obligations that occurred during its membership. The Philippines acceded to the Rome Statute in November 2011, thus binding the country to the provisions from that date until its withdrawal became effective on March 16, 2019.

During the 136th session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva last Oct. 11, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla reiterated the government’s position that the International Criminal Court (ICC) “has ceased having jurisdiction” over the Philippines. This lacks context.

STATEMENT

Responding to allegations of extrajudicial killings in the government’s anti-drug campaign, Remulla told the UN committee, an 18-member panel of independent human rights experts, that this is not a state policy.

He added:

“We reiterate our position that the ICC has ceased having jurisdiction over our country. Because the more important thing is that our judicial system is functioning … So there is no need for the ICC to intervene within the country … From the ICC, we have withdrawn our membership from the International Court of Justice (sic), but our judicial system is functioning throughout the archipelago of the Philippines.”

 

Source: United Nations TV Geneva, 3920th Meeting, 136th Session, Human Rights Committee (CCPR), Oct. 11, 2022, watch from 17:45 to 18:59

Remulla led the Philippine delegation to the 3920th meeting of the 136th session of the UN committee which scrutinized the fifth periodic report of the government on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for 2012 to 2017 in the country.

FACT

Article 127, paragraph 2 of the Rome Statute, the treaty that founded the ICC, provides that a country that has withdrawn is not cleared of its obligations for incidents that occurred during its membership. The Philippines acceded to the Rome Statute in November 2011, binding the country to the treaty provisions from that date until its withdrawal became effective on March 16, 2019.

This was affirmed by the Supreme Court in March 2021 in the Pangilinan v. Cayetano case.

It was the second time on VERA Files Fact Check’s count that Remulla omitted a crucial context in asserting that the ICC no longer has jurisdiction over the Philippines. At the UN committee meeting, he also inaccurately said that the country withdrew from the International Court of Justice instead of the ICC. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Justice Secretary’s comment on ICC jurisdiction needs context)

In September 2021, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber authorized the launch of an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity that occurred in the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, such as the alleged death of 12,000 to 30,000 suspected drug personalities from July 1, 2016 to March 16, 2019. The probe includes suspected killings in the Davao region by the so-called vigilante group “Davao Death Squad” from November 2011 to June 2016.

However, this was temporarily suspended in November 2021 after the Philippine government requested ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan to defer to local authorities on the matter.

Last Sept. 22, Khan asked the Pre-Trial Chamber to allow the resumption of the investigation due to the government’s alleged failure to “sufficiently mirror” the ICC’s probe. (See PHL argument to defer drug war probe fails to convince ICC prosecutor)

 

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Sources

United Nations TV Geneva official website, 3920th Meeting, 136th Session, Human Rights Committee (CCPR), Oct. 10, 2022

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights official website, Membership of the UN Human Rights Committee, Accessed Oct. 17, 2022

United Nations Documents official website, Fifth periodic report submitted by the Philippines under article 40 of the Covenant, due in 2016*, Accessed Oct. 17, 2022

International Criminal Court official website, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Accessed Oct. 17, 2022

International Criminal Court official website, Republic of the Philippines, Accessed Oct. 17, 2022

Supreme Court of the Philippines official website, G.R. No. 238875/G.R. No. 239483/G.R. No. 240954, March 16, 2021

International Criminal Court official website, Decision on the Prosecutor’s request for authorisation of an investigation pursuant to Article 15(3) of the Statute, Sept. 15, 2021

International Criminal Court official website, Public Redacted Version of “Prosecution’s Response to the Philippine Government’s Observations on the Prosecution’s Request to Resume Investigations (ICC-01/21-51, filed 8 September 2022)”, Sept. 22, 2022

 

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)