Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Philippines' Duterte moves to quit International Criminal Court

Philippines' Duterte moves to quit International Criminal Court

"I therefore declare and forthwith give notice, as president of the Republic of the Philippines, that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately", he said in a statement.

The leader cited in a statement "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks" against him and his administration as the reason for withdrawing from the court, which hears cases of genocide and war crimes.

He also referred to what he claimed was an attempt by the ICC prosecutor to seek jurisdiction over him "in violation of due process and presumption of innocence". The Philippine Senate was responsible for ratifying the treaty.

The ICC is the first permanent institution having power to exercise jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of worldwide concern such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression, and is seen to help end impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes.

Critics expressed shock at Duterte's decision, saying he was trying to escape accountability and fearing it could foster an even worse human rights situation in the country.

"On the merits, one of the elements of the crime against humanity is murder, which is the crime of unlawful killing, and that any killing in connection with the drug war could not be unlawful killing because they are valid, legitimate police action", Roque said.

Last month, the ICC announced that it would begin a preliminary examination on alleged extrajudicial killings associated with the president's bloody drug war.

He said: "In short, since the ICC has already commenced with proceedings regarding President Duterte's war on drugs, it has the authority to proceed and the Philippine government has the obligation to cooperate with an investigation, regardless of the notice of withdrawal".

Roque also discredited the merits of the crime against humanity lodged against the administration's drug war before the ICC.

The preliminary investigation is still ongoing as of Wednesday, according to the ICC page on Duterte's 'war on drugs' campaign.

Duterte "welcomes the preliminary examination because he is sick and exhausted of being accused of the commission of crimes against humanity", Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said when the examination was announced. "There appears to be a concerted effort on those aforesaid United Nation officials to paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights".

"Also, we can not get out of ICC jurisdiction just like that".

He said it will also encourage China to scoff at the Philippines' victory at the UN Arbitral Tribunal over the West Philippine Sea and physically wrest sovereignty over the Philippine islands.

It seems that Duterte would rather withdraw from the institution.

Duterte's defiance is among the traits that make him wildly popular in the Philippines, where his crackdown has broad support.

Created in 1998 through the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over 124 of its members, including the Philippines. In the country, a law must be published in the Official Gazette or newspapers before it takes effect, he said.

The Hague-based tribunal announced last month that it had opened a preliminary examination of a complaint filed a year ago by a Philippine lawyer over the president's anti-drug campaign, which has left 4,000 dead since Duterte took office in 2016.

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