ICC Prosecutor halts investigation into Philippine war on drugs

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague said on Friday she had ordered a halt to her investigation into the Philippines’ controversial war on drugs following a request from the country’s president.

The announcement came a week after President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman said the Philippines was withdrawing from the ICC after it was reported that an investigation had opened into the government’s bloody war on drugs.

“ICC’s Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has today decided to suspend the investigation into the alleged crimes against humanity committed in the Philippines,” the Office of the Prosecutor said in a statement.

“This decision follows the Philippines’ decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It follows the OTP’s further exchange of information with the Philippine authorities regarding matters related to the conduct of the Office’s investigation,” the statement added.

The ICC also confirmed that it had opened an investigation into human rights violations allegedly committed in the Philippines in relation to Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs in 2016.

Duterte’s war has claimed thousands of lives. Human rights groups have decried it as an extension of police killings, but the President argues that the deaths are part of a crackdown to reduce crime rates.

In a tweet on Thursday, he said the ICC’s preliminary examination of his drug war was a “pure political show by the Europeans.”

The ICC’s investigations come as the United States is considering a lawsuit to end its partnership with the court, claiming it has overstepped its mandate.

“I did think that if the ICC were to stay in business, it would have to do more to accept that governments are in charge of the protection of their citizens,” Rudy Dionisio, the chief lawyer at the U.S. Justice Department, told the Washington Post on Friday.

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