What’s the score on the ICC?

What’s the score on the ICC?

We are persuaded to ask the question yet again, after Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on September 28 that the Hague-based International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan is doing the court a “disservice” for challenging the Philippine system.

We heard him loud and clear when he said during the news conference, “They (the ICC) cannot run roughshod over our system and say you’re a lousy country and you cannot do what we want you to do. Are they dictating on us, on what we should do as a country?”

He added and asked “I hope the ICC will know that Mr. Khan is doing them a great disservice by putting a challenge to our system here. Are they putting a challenge on our system here?”

The briefing followed the latest developments in the ICC probe into drug war killings in the Philippines in the previous Duterte administration (2016-2022).

In a document dated September 22, Khan insisted the probe into alleged killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s leadership should continue.

Parallel to this is the message to reporters by Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, former president Duterte’s justice secretary, who said the Office of the Solicitor General, where he is appointed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as chief, is still considering whether the Philippine government would respond to Khan.

The OSG, which has the mandate to represent the government and agencies in any litigation or proceeding, represents the Philippine government.

Guevarra had said, “Regardless of the pre-trial chamber’s ruling, however, the Philippine government will avail itself of all legal remedies, both domestic and international, even as it vigorously pursues its own investigation and prosecution of crimes committed in relation to the government’s so-called war on drugs, all within the framework of our own legal and judicial system.”

We are persuaded to agree with Secretary Remulla, who believes the Philippines should no longer reply to the ICC.

It is interesting that the ICC is loudly exhaling jurisprudence when it cannot even force Russia, the United States, and China – believe it or not, the First World powers – to slide into its jurisdiction.

Legal experts say these absences have been a very common topic since the creation of this intergovernmental organization 20 years ago, and until this day it’s quite often spoken among politicians, journalists, analysts, and diplomats.

Other notable absences are Israel, Qatar, Iraq, and Libya; some of them with a very turbulent past (and present) and with a few not-very-good things in common.

But let’s start with some basics about the ICC.

What’s the purpose of the ICC? To prosecute anyone responsible for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

The main scenario in which this court acts is whenever a government with or without a judicial system is unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals in their country.

Very quickly, is the Philippines unable or unwilling to prosecute criminals within its functioning judicial system? The answer is a big NO.

Now we go back to the ICC.

Unlike other organizations, like the International Court of Justice, the ICC can prosecute individuals and that’s probably one of the key points for which some big nations like the United States, China, and Russia aren’t a part of this treaty.

The common complaints and bad comments about international organizations originate due to their lack of concrete and successful actions and the ICC is no exception.

Observers say their first verdict came 10 years after the Rome Statute entered into force.

In 2012, Thomas Lubanga, leader of a militia in Congo, was convicted because of his war crimes, mainly for the use of children in his ranks.

After this event, the actions of the ICC centered in Africa and currently, the organization is being accused by some nations of alleged African bias.

Although, it’s important to remember that their involvement in African issues has been referred, in some cases, by the UN or even self-referred by a member state, which was the case with Uganda and the conflicts with the LRA.

The bias against the Philippines is heating up.


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