DAMASCUS, Syria — The International Criminal Court says it has “suspended a preliminary examination” into the Philippines’ drugs war, where police have killed over 2,000 people since President Rodrigo Duterte unleashed a bloody crackdown.
In a statement Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office said it decided to stop the probe because the “inordinate delay” by Manila “in promptly investigating this incident” meant the investigation was not yet complete.
“However, as soon as the process has been concluded and the prosecutor has received the final report, the preliminary examination will be re-opened,” said the statement.
It said it has “not yet been able to confirm on the basis of the evidence received so far that (drugs) offences have been committed.”
The decision comes just days after the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) reported that the government and police had summarily executed an untold number of drug suspects during the crackdown.
The U.N. panel said more than 3,500 people have been killed nationwide since Duterte took office almost two years ago.
The report said victims appear to have been killed with an extraordinary cruelty, adding the killings resembled war crimes.
It found the drug crackdown constitutes a “continuing pattern of serious international crimes under international law” such as torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances.
Duterte defended his crackdown, stating that his government was justified in killing drug dealers and gangsters.
However, the spokesperson for the ICC said the court “can only confirm the existence of an active preliminary examination when an official from the State Party meets the standard of convincing evidence.”
“Since the Prosecutor has not received this official information, she is unable to give further information regarding the process and analysis underway,” said Juerg Van der Staeyer, spokesperson for the ICC prosecutor.