ICC appeals court lets drug war victims’ kin comment on case


THE International Criminal Court-Appeals Chamber has allowed families of the victims of the bloody war against illegal drugs to comment on the case of crimes against humanity filed against former President Rodrigo Duterte and several others.

In an 11-page decision, the ICC-Appeals Chamber granted the application to present victims’ views and concerns in connection with the Philippine government’s bid to overturn the order issued by the ICC-Pre-Trial Chamber to resume the investigation into  the thousands of killings during the Duterte anti-illegal drug war campaign.

Thus, the Appeals Chamber directed the Victims Participation and Reparation Section “collect and transmit” representations from any interested victims or groups representing the victims and  submit a report until May 22, 2023.

It also allowed the Office of the Public Counsel for Victims (OPCV) to submit written observations on the government’s appeal brief in relation to the general interests of victims by April 18, 2023.

“The appeals Chamber considers it appropriate for victims to be involved in these appeal proceedings,” the decision read.

On the other hand, the Appeals Chamber granted the request of the Philippine government to be notified of public and confidential filings before the chamber, except filings that are considered  confidential  ex parte.

“The appeals chamber is not persuaded that all filings concerning victims should be notified to the Philippines…Therefore, to the extent that the Philippines seeks to gain access to identifying information about victims, the Appeals Chamber notes that it would not be appropriate to grant the request in this regard,” the decision stated.

Sought for his comment on the ICC-Appeals Chamber decision,  government chief counsel, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said: “For as long as the state will be given a fair opportunity to respond to the victims’ submissions during the appeals stage, the OSG will not make any further comment on their involvement.”

However, Guevarra pointed out that the government  had not been given  a chance to see the complaints of the alleged victims  or an opportunity to address the same.

“We do not know who the 90 anonymous victim applicants are and where they are coming from,” Guevarra said.

The  Philippine government earlier  asked the Appeals Chamber to reverse  the January 26  decision of the Pre-Trial Chambers (PTC) authorizing the resumption of the investigation on the abuses and deaths related to the anti-illegal drug of the Duterte administration.

In an appeals brief submitted last March 13,  Guevarra  maintained that the ICC has lost  jurisdiction over the country following the  withdrawal of its membership in 2019 upon the directive of Duterte.

Image credits: AP/Bullit Marquez