Information for victims
The situation in the Philippines
On 24 May 2021, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court ("ICC") requested authorisation from the Pre-Trial Chamber I (“PTC I”) to initiate an investigation into crimes allegedly committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the Government of the Philippines' "war on drugs" campaign (“Prosecutor’s Request”). On 14 June 2021 the Prosecutor’s Request was made public.
On 15 September 2021, PTC I authorized the investigation. In reaching this Decision, the Judges also took into account the victims’ representations introduced on behalf of approximately 1,530 individual victims and 1,050 families, who overwhelmingly supported the opening of the investigation.
On 18 November 2021, the ICC Prosecutor informed PTC I that the Republic of the Philippines requested, pursuant to Article 18(2) of the Rome Statute, that the investigation into the Philippines situation be deferred (“Deferral Request”).
On 24 June 2022, the ICC Prosecutor submitted a request to resume the investigation into the situation in the Philippines pursuant to article 18(2) (“Prosecutor’s Resumption Request”); the request is available here.
On 26 January 2023, the Pre-Trial Chamber issued its decision authorizing the Prosecutor to resume the investigation into the Philippines Situation, pursuant to article 18(2) of the Statute (“Article 18(2) Decision”). The Judges considered the eight collective victim representations submitted on behalf of 293 individuals and 366 families, who all supported the Prosecutor’s request to resume the investigation.
On 18 July 2023, the Appeals Chamber confirmed, by majority, the authorisation given by the Pre-Trial Chamber to the ICC Prosecutor to resume investigations in the Philippines situation. The majority, composed of Judges Piotr Hofmański, Luz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza and Solomy Balungi Bossa, dismissed all the grounds of appeal invoked by the Government of the Philippines. In doing so, they also took into account the views and concerns expressed on behalf of 350 individual victims and 165 families, who unanimously urged the Appeals Chamber to confirm the Article 18(2) Decision. Two Judges of the Appeals Chamber, Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and Gocha Lordkipanidze, issued a dissenting opinion.
What is the scope of the investigation into the Philippines Situation?
The ICC Judges authorized the commencement of the investigation into the Situation in the Philippines in relation to crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed on the territory of the Philippines between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019 in the context of the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ campaign. The Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I ruled that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder appears to have been committed and further noted reports of torture and inhumane acts, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty, enforced disappearance and sexual violence. The Judges authorised the OTP to investigate such other crimes, as long as they remain within the parameters of the authorised investigation.
Victims’ participatory rights and communication with the Court
The ICC is the first permanent international criminal court which envisages an active role for victims in judicial proceedings. Victims can address the Court already during an investigation by the Prosecutor, in terms of their rights to participate in potential future judicial proceedings, and to receive reparations in case of a conviction.
At the current investigation stage, victims can communicate with the Court in a number of ways:
Any individual, group or State can send information to the Office of the Prosecutor regarding any alleged crimes committed in the Philippines and falling under the jurisdiction of the Court. Persons with such information, including affected communities of the situation, can communicate to the Office of the Prosecutor any relevant information for the purposes of the investigation on the following dedicated portal.
Victims of crimes falling within the scope of the Philippines Situation may also reach out to the VPRS for the purposes of participation in potential future criminal proceedings against one or more suspects. The VPRS however highlights that the current stage of proceedings is an investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor and, to date, there are no criminal proceedings against any individual(s). Filling in application forms for participation in such criminal proceedings and/or reparations may currently be premature in the absence of any active case(s) in the Situation. Please note that before filling in a victim application form, it is advised that you contact the VPRS so that you can be provided with information and advice notably as to what participation in ICC proceedings generally entails, and what this means at the current stage of the process as well as potential future stages. In addition, the VPRS provides training and advice as to how to fill in the form correctly, which is very important in order for victims' expectations to be met with adequate Registry advice. Please note that any forms received at the investigation stage are not transmitted to a Pre-Trial Chamber absent any judicial proceedings relating to one or more cases, unless the Chamber orders the Registry to do so.
For more information about victims’ rights before the ICC, victims can contact the VPRS - the section within the ICC Registry responsible for assisting victims in the process of applying for participation in judicial proceedings, and reparations in case of a conviction, at [email protected].
Victims’ safety and security
Please note that the security of victims is crucial. It is important to take preventive measures such as avoiding mentioning their involvement with the ICC to others/publicly. It is also important to avoid anything that could expose victims and put them or other people at risk, e.g. talking to the media, posting on social media, etc. about their contacts with the ICC.
GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE ICC
The Court’s Structure
The Court is composed of four organs: (i) the Presidency; (ii) Chambers (Appeals Division, Trial Division, Pre-Trial Division); (iii) the Office of the Prosecutor; and (iv) the Registry. The Office of the Prosecutor acts independently as a separate organ. The Registry is composed of many sections, including, of particular interest for victims, the Victims Participation and Reparation Section, the Victims and Witnesses Section and the Public Information and Outreach Section. The Office of Public Counsel for Victims and the Trust Fund for Victims are independent offices who are also working on victims related matters.
The Court’s Jurisdiction
The general mission of the ICC is to investigate and, where warranted, prosecute individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. The Court is participating in a global fight to end impunity, and through international criminal justice, the ICC aims to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again.
The ICC does not prosecute States, Governments or political parties. It can only investigate and prosecute natural persons of 18 years of age or above. Its mandate is to investigate and, where warranted, prosecute individuals for their alleged individual criminal responsibility for mass crimes which fall under the ICC jurisdiction.
The Principle of Complementarity
The principle of complementarity is one of the main pillars for the Court’s operation. If a State which has jurisdiction over the situation/case investigates, prosecutes and tries the same person for substantially the same conduct, then the ICC shall defer to the domestic judicial authorities, provided that the State is not unwilling and/or unable to genuinely carry out the proceedings.
The Court does not have police or executive forces who implement the Court’s decisions and orders (such as a warrant of arrest). The ICC is dependent on the States Parties to cooperate fully with the Court. The Court may also invite any State not party to the Rome Statute to provide assistance to the Court.
For further general information on the structure and functioning of the Court, as well as on the crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC please click here.