Rep. Harry Roque of Kabayan party-list on Wednesday asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to give the Philippines the opportunity to probe alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) before it intervenes.
During the 15th Session of the Assembly of the States Parties (ASP) in The Hague, The Netherlands, Roque said in his speech that the ICC should instead make a priority the improvement of its partnership with the Philippines by providing technical knowledge in addressing the issue.
He slammed the statement of ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, saying that it “has come a bit too early, at the expense of disenfranchising national efforts to address its problem.”
“I would have expected the prosecutor instead to address the Philippines’ prosecutorial offices to perform their mandated task to carry out a genuine investigation and prosecution of the extralegal killings or give way to international mechanisms under the ICC upon the aut dedere aud judicare (either extradite or prosecute) principle,” Roque said.
“I agree that the Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte will have to show more than lip service to the rule of law and to its international legal obligations under the Rome Statute. But first of all, it has to be given the chance to make complementarity a reality within its own jurisdiction,” he added.
In an e-mailed statement issued in The Hague, Bensouda expressed her concerns over the alleged killings, saying high officials in the country even seem to condone and further encourage State forces and civilians to continue targeting individuals.
“Extra-judicial killings may fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court if they are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population pursuant to a State policy to commit such an attack,” she said.
In response, Roque noted ICC’s principle of complementarity, which provides that the States have the first responsibility and the right to prosecute international crimes while the ICC may only exercise their right to prosecute when the national legal system fails to do so such as when they are unwilling, unable or do not genuinely carry out proceedings.