MANILA, Philippines - After months of international criticism over the bloody war on drugs in the Philippines, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has now announced an inquiry.
The chief prosecutor of ICC Fatou Bensouda said in a statement on Thursday that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is to open a preliminary inquiry into alleged crimes committed during the Philippines government's war on drugs.
Bensouda added that it would look at reports and allegations of extrajudicial killings.
Bensouda added, "Since 2016, I have closely followed the situations" in the Philippines.
After "a careful, independent and impartial review... I have decided to open a preliminary examination..."
She added that her office would "analyze crimes allegedly committed... since at least 1 July 2016, in the context of the 'war on drugs' campaign" launched by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Adding, “Specifically, it has been alleged that since 1 July 2016, thousands of persons have been killed for reasons related to their alleged involvement in illegal drug use or dealing.”
Many were allegedly "extra-judicial killings" carried out during "police anti-drug operations."
Ever since he took power, the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's policy of endorsing such killings as part of the drugs war has drawn widespread condemnation.
Bensouda also stated that her office would analyze alleged crimes committed in the context of the government's "war on drugs.”
She added, “Specifically it has been alleged that since July 2016 thousands of persons have been killed for reasons related to their alleged involvement in illegal drug use or dealing. While some of such killings have reportedly occurred in the context of clashes between and within gangs it is alleged that many of the reported incidents involved extrajudicial killings in the course of police anti-drug operations.”
However, following the announcement, Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, dismissed the ICC's examination as a "waste of time and resources.”
Roque said that Duterte had employed "lawful use of force" against threats to the country.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International welcomed the ICC's announcement on the Philippines.
It said that the announcement marked "a crucial moment for justice and accountability.”
James Gomez, Amnesty's south-east Asia director said in a statement on Thursday, "This announcement is a warning to leaders around the world that those who order or incite crimes against humanity including murder will not be able to get away with it, and will be subject to investigation under international law.”
The ICC was opened in 2002 to prosecute the world's worst crimes and the Philippines probe will be its first preliminary examination in a Southeast Asian nation.