President Duterte announces withdrawal of Philippines from ICC

Pauline Gross
March 15, 2018

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced the upcoming withdrawal of the country from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the presidential press service said Wednesday in a statement.

Lagman further pointed out that the withrawal can not derail the ongoing preliminary examination of Duterte's alleged crimes against humanity in relation to his administration's drug war.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo announced earlier Wednesday that the President had ordered the withdrawal of the Philippines' ratification of the Rome Statute, which created the ICC. "Neither is it a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity", he said.

The ICC in February began a preliminary investigation into Mr Duterte's controversial crackdown on the narcotics trade.

"The ICC was ratified by the Senate".

Also, Duterte said the ICC could not subject the Philippine President to any investigation during his tenure due to the doctrine of immunity from lawsuit while in office.

The ICC is an intergovernmental organization located in The Hague, which prosecutes individuals convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals.

The large-scale anti-drug campaign known as the war on drugs was launched by Duterte in June 2016 as a follow up to his election promises to end drug-related crimes in the country.

Duterte has been threatening to pull out of the Hague-based worldwide tribunal since the start of his presidential term in mid-2016.

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Mr Zeid has also taken aim at Mr Duterte, saying that he "needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation" for describing Ms Callamard as "malnourished" and referring to ICC prosecutor Fatou Besouda as "that black woman".

He said the Rome Statute that established the tribunal for heinous leaders can not be enforced in the Philippines because it has not been made public as required by law after Filipino senators ratified it in 2011.

Mr Duterte also blasted United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard and United Nations rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein for their "bias".

By withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the ICC, the president is following in the footsteps of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and also The Gambia, which cited racism against "people of colour, especially Africans" as a reason for leaving.

He said when the Philippines became a signatory to the Rome Statute, it was on the assumption that the worldwide accepted principles of justice in relation to its constitutional requirement on due process would be upheld.

Duterte's critics have said many of those killed were small-time drug dealers and users from poor communities, while the so-called big fish, or main suppliers, remained at large.

Duterte, however, argued that there was "fraud" committed in the process of making the Philippines sign the agreement, thus Manila has the right to withdraw "effective immediately".

Villarin also said that as a signatory to the Rome Statute and other treaty obligations, the decision of the President will be tantamount to reneging all other global commitments and obligations that would have unprecedented repercussions to the country's worldwide standing as a sovereign state. In the country, a law must be published in the Official Gazette or newspapers before it takes effect, he said.

Other reports by GizPress

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