MANILA, Philippines — The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) denied the Philippine government’s request to reject the bid of drug war victims and the Office of Public Counsel for Victims (OPCV) to comment on the crimes against humanity case filed against former President Rodrigo Duterte.
This would also allow the OPCV — an independent office of the ICC — to make a report of written observations on the Philippine government’s appeal brief regarding the interests of victims.
Prior to the government’s appeal to block the drug war families, a total of 90 applicants signed the appeal invoking their right to object to the government’s efforts to stop the ICC probe.
“The Victims Participation and Reparations Section is instructed to collect and transmit to the Appeals Chamber representations from any interested victims and victim groups and prepare and submit a report thereon by 22 May 2023,” said the Appeals Chamber in a decision published on March 21, 2023 (Netherlands time).
The Victims Participation and Reparations Section acts as a liaison between the ICC and the victims of the drug war, while the OPCV may also act as the victim’s legal representatives.
The Appeals Chamber decided, however, that the Philippine government could be notified of the public and confidential filings in current appellate proceedings, except for filings that might be deemed confidential ex parte — that is, privy only to certain parties.
The chamber still rejected the government’s request to see the submissions of the victims on the terms it indicated in its appeal.
“The Appeals Chamber is not persuaded that all filings concerning victims should be notified to the Philippines,” it said.
The Chamber cited Article 68 (1) of the Rome Statute: “Court shall take appropriate measures to protect the safety, physical and psychological well-being, dignity and privacy of victims and witnesses.”
“The Appeals Chamber considers it appropriate for victims to be involved in these appeal proceedings,” the chamber said.
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