In September, ICC judges approved an investigation into the campaign in which thousands of suspected drug dealers died. Activists say many have been executed by law enforcement agencies with the tacit backing of the President.
Philippine authorities say the killings were in self-defence and that the ICC has no power to intervene.
Court documents released by the ICC and confirmed by Philippine officials on Saturday show Manila filed a request for an adjournment on November 10, citing the country’s investigation into the killings in drug war.
“The prosecutor has temporarily suspended investigative activities while assessing the scope and impact of the adjournment request,” ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan wrote, adding that they would seek further information from Philippines.
Governments can ask the ICC to adjourn a case if they are carrying out their own investigations and prosecutions of similar practices.
Manila’s request for an adjournment follows repeated statements by the Duterte government that it will not cooperate with the ICC.
“We welcome the impartiality of the new ICC prosecutor, who has deemed it appropriate to put a fresh perspective on the matter and we are confident that the matter will be resolved in our government’s direction. exoneration and recognition of our judicial system,” Karlo Nograles, acting spokesman for Duterte, said in a statement Saturday.
A group of Filipino lawyers urges the ICC not to erase the glimmer of hope for the families of drug war victims.
“We ask the ICC not to let itself be swayed by the statements currently being made by the Duterte administration,” the National People’s Lawyers Union, which represents some of the victims’ families, said in a statement. declare.
The Philippines’ justice system is “extremely slow and inevitably largely unrepresented and poor,” the statement said.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) considers the government’s claim that existing domestic mechanisms are sufficiently equitable for citizens to be absurd. Brad Adam, HRW Asia Director, said in a statement: “Let’s hope the ICC sees through its ruse.
The ICC’s decision is a boost for Duterte, who this week kicked off a run for the Senate in next year’s elections. He is constitutionally barred from being re-elected as president.
“Of course it will give some relief from the fierce elections,” political analyst Ramon Casiple, vice president of research and consulting firm Novo Trends PH, told Reuters. “However, it may not allow (him) to do more after the election, especially if the incoming government chooses to cooperate with the ICC process.”
In its nearly two decades of existence, the ICC has convicted five men for war crimes and crimes against humanity, all of whom were African militia leaders from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Uganda.