The head of the United Nations human rights office urged the Duterte administration to publish the findings of its drug war review panel as International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan said his probe would uncover the truth and ensure accountability among those involved in human rights abuses.
“I encourage publication of the panel’s findings so its work can be evaluated,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet during the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Bachelet noted that in February, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced at the Human Rights Council some preliminary findings of the inter-agency review panel on anti-illegal drugs operations where deaths occurred.
“The panel has now referred its findings on 52 cases involving 154 police officers for investigation for criminal liability,” she said.
Khan, for his part, said his office would depend on the cooperation of states, civil societies and their other partners in the probe.
“My investigation will seek to uncover the truth and aim to ensure accountability. We will focus our efforts on ensuring a successful, independent and impartial investigation,” he said.
Khan’s predecessor Fatou Bensouda had requested the ICC to conduct a probe into the crimes committed in the Philippines from Nov. 1, 2011 in the context of the anti-drug campaign under the Duterte administration.
On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he is ready to face the charges brought against him at the ICC for his deadly drug war even when he retires to his hometown of Davao City, as long as the evidence is not fabricated against him.
“I will prepare for my defense. That ICC – just don’t invent anything. I am not scared, just don’t cheat on the evidence,” the President said.
More than 6,000 mostly poor drug suspects have been killed during the campaign, according to the government. But human rights groups say the death toll is considerably higher and should include many unsolved killings by motorcycle-riding gunmen who may have been deployed by police.