Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Philippines to pull out of ICC 'immediately', Duterte says

Philippines to pull out of ICC 'immediately', Duterte says

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that the country will withdraw from the International Criminal Court "effective immediately", just weeks after the tribunal announced its investigation on possible crimes against humanity over his deadly war on drugs.

Duterte said Wednesday that the court can not have jurisdiction over him because the Philippine Senate's ratification in 2011 of the Rome Statute that established the court was never publicized as required by law.

The ICC, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, revealed in February that it is launching a "preliminary examination" of Duterte's war on drugs, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of Filipinos.

He said Callamard has depicted him as a "ruthless violator of human rights and directly responsible" for alleged extrajudicial killings without showing any proof and merely relying on news reports and accusations of his critics.

He said the worldwide criminal court has also been utilized as a "political tool against the Philippines" following the implication of culpability the preliminary examination by the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bansouda "unduly and maliciously created".

The Philippines became the 117th state party to the Rome Statute in August 2011 following Senate ratification of the treaty.

Last month, he indicated he would cooperate with the ICC examination and even said he would prefer a firing squad to prison.

The case stems from a complaint filed before the worldwide court in 2017 accusing the Philippine president of ordering the killings "repeatedly, unchangingly, and continuously".

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.

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Police said almost 5,000 suspects have been killed in shootouts during drug raids since Mr Duterte took office in mid-June.

The campaign has been sharply criticized by the global community and human rights groups.

The President, however, bewailed that there was "fraud" in the country's ratification of the agreement, saying the Philippines was "made to believe" that the principle of complementarity, due process, and presumption of innocence, would prevail.

Senator Antonio Trillanes said Duterte was withdrawing "because he knows that there is no way out for him in the ICC".

Created in 1998 through the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over 124 of its members, including the Philippines.

Under ICC rules, a state's withdrawal takes effect one year after the global tribunal receives notification of its decision to leave. "We need to notify the ICC and only after a year can the withdawal take effect", he added.

"This is a misguided and deeply regrettable move by President Duterte, and the latest signal that powerful individuals in the Philippines are more interested in covering up their own potential accountability for killings than they are in ensuring justice for the many victims of the country's brutal "war on drugs". In the country, a law must be published in the Official Gazette or newspapers before it takes effect, he said.

'I will invoke my power of supervision and control and will review (the) dismissal, ' Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, quoted the president as saying during a joint command conference with police and military officials on Tuesday evening.

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