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) (“OTP 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 6 February 2023, the Government of the Philippines appealed the Article 18(2) Decision (“Philippines’ Appeal”) and, on 13 March 2023 their appeal brief was filed.
On 21 March 2023, the Appeals Chamber issued a decision by which it instructed the Victims Participation and Reparations Section (“VPRS”) of the Registry to collect and transmit to the Appeals Chamber representations from any interested victims and victim groups, with the assistance of their lawyers if they so wish, on the issue of whether, in their view, the Article 18(2) Decision allowing for the resumption of the investigation by the ICC Prosecutor should be confirmed, amended or reversed on appeal. The VPRS was instructed to prepare and submit a report on the victim representations received by 22 May 2023. In the same decision, the Appeals Chamber also granted the request by the Office of Public Counsel for Victims (“OPCV”) to submit written observations in relation to the general interests of victims by 18 April 2023.
On 22 May 2022, the Registry transmitted to the Appeals Chamber five representations containing the views and concerns expressed on behalf of 350 individual victims and 165 families, together with a report thereon. The victims unanimously urge the Appeals Chamber to confirm the Article 18(2) Decision.
The Appeals Chamber will issue its decision on the Philippines’s appeal in due time.
For any information about victims’ rights and the Philippines situation, please contact the VPRS at [email protected].
What is the scope of the investigation into the Philippines Situation?
The 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.
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.