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Lawyers ask ICC to lift suspension of drug war probe

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A LAWYER’S group asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to reconsider its suspension of a probe on alleged human rights violations in the Duterte administration’s drug war, citing the questionable validity of investigations made by the Philippines’ Justice department.

The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), in a Nov. 21 letter to ICC Prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan, said the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) probe was “merely” a review of investigations made by the police internal affairs unit.

“It is misleading to label the DoJ actions as an ‘investigation’ since it appears that the DoJ merely conducted a review of the documents provided by the Internal Affairs Service of the Philippine National Police,” the group said in the letter.

The chief ICC prosecutor suspended its investigation after the Philippine government filed a deferral request on Nov. 10, citing that the DoJ made “thorough investigations” into 52 drug-related killings that occurred between 2016 and 2020.

FLAG said the DoJ probe covered only a fraction of the killings or attempted killings.

“This figure is but 0.12% to 0.3% of the 12,000 to 30,000 persons killed during the period,” it said.

Another lawyers’ group that also represent some of the victims’ families, the National Union of People’s Lawyers, released a statement earlier appealing to the Hague-based tribunal to pursue its probe. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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