THE PHILIPPINE government under ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte had condoned human rights abuses, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) prosecutor said, citing the lack of efforts to probe extralegal killings related to his deadly war on drugs. 

“Nothing about these crimes, committed in large part by law enforcement personnel entrusted with protecting citizens from violence, suggests that the potential cases before the court are of marginal gravity,” ICC Prosecutor Karim Ahmad A. Khan said in his response dated April 4 to the Philippine’s appeal to suspend the probe. 

“To the contrary, they are extremely serious, and appear to have been at the very least encouraged and condoned by high-level government officials, up to and including the former president.” 

The ICC in January reopened its probe of Mr. Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, saying it was not satisfied with the government’s efforts to probe human rights abuses.  

The Hague-based tribunal on March 28 rejected the Philippine government’s plea to suspend the probe of the drug war. It said the Philippines had failed to persuade the court to defer its investigation. 

The Philippines earlier asked the ICC pre-trial chamber to suspend its probe of the drug war, citing a lack of authority on the part of the ICC prosecutor. It said it encroaches on Philippine sovereignty. 

Mr. Khan said the Philippines had failed to raise new points to justify halting the probe. He added that the ICC has the authority to probe human rights violations during the period since they were committed while the Philippines was still a member of the court. 

Mr. Duterte canceled Philippine membership in the tribunal in 2018. President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has said the Philippines would not rejoin the ICC. 

The government estimates that at least 6,117 suspected drug dealers were killed in police operations. Human rights groups say as many as 30,000 suspects died. — John Victor D. Ordoñez