Criminal Court to Probe Situations in Philippines and Venezuela

Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Mrs Fatou Bensouda. Photo: ICC
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Mrs Fatou Bensouda. Photo: ICC

A prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mrs Fatou Bensouda, said Thursday that she has decided to open a preliminary examination into the situations in the Philippines and Venezuela, as both these countries are States Parties to the Rome Statute.

“Since 2016, I have closely followed the situations in the Philippines and Venezuela. Following a careful, independent, and impartial review of a number of communications and reports documenting alleged crimes potentially falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC, I have decided to open a preliminary examination into each situation,” said Mrs Bensouda.

The preliminary examination of the situation in the Philippines will analyse crimes allegedly committed in this State Party since at least 1 July 2016, in the context of the “war on drugs” campaign launched by the Government of the Philippines.

Specifically, it has been alleged that since 1 July 2016, thousands of persons have been killed for reasons related to their alleged involvement in illegal drug use or dealing.

While some of such killings have reportedly occurred in the context of clashes between or within gangs, it is alleged that many of the reported incidents involved extra-judicial killings in the course of police anti-drug operations.

The preliminary examination of the situation in Venezuela will analyse crimes allegedly committed in this State Party since at least April 2017, in the context of demonstrations and related political unrest.

In particular, it has been alleged that State security forces frequently used excessive force to disperse and put down demonstrations, and arrested and detained thousands of actual or perceived members of the opposition, a number of whom would have been allegedly subjected to serious abuse and ill-treatment in detention.

It has also been reported that some groups of protestors resorted to violent means, resulting in some members of security forces being injured or killed.

Under the Rome Statute, national jurisdictions have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible for international crimes.

“We hope to count on the full engagement of the relevant national authorities in the Philippines and Venezuela,” Mrs Bensouda said.

The ICC would have jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes if committed on the respective territories of the Philippines and Venezuela or by their respective nationals since the date when the Statute entered into force in each State, namely since 1 November 2011 in the case of Philippines, and since 1 July 2002, in Venezuela.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations, and prosecutions of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Photo / Video courtesy: ICC

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