Philippines Withdraws from International Criminal Court

The ICC announced in February that it was launching a “preliminary examination” of Mr Duterte’s bloody crackdown on drugs

The ICC announced in February that it was launching a “preliminary examination” of Mr Duterte’s bloody crackdown on drugs Credit AP

"I therefore declare and forthwith give notice ... that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately", Duterte said in a written statement explaining his decision to pull out of the statute that created the International Criminal Court (ICC).

President Rodrigo Duterte has announced Wednesday that the Philippines is immediately withdrawing from the International Criminal Court, which is investigating his brutal anti-narcotics campaign.

The Hague-based ICC announced last month it was launching a "preliminary examination" of Duterte's bloody anti-drug crackdown that has drawn global concern.

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 it is a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity", the president said in his statement. The Philippine Senate was responsible for ratifying the treaty.

The Philippines signed up to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, in 2011.

A Philippine lawyer filed the initial ICC complaint against Duterte and at least 11 senior officials in April 2017, saying crimes against humanity were committed "repeatedly, unchangingly and continuously" and killing drug suspects and other criminals had become "best practice".

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. On several occasions, he called the global body "useless" following ICC calls for probes into Duterte's notorious 'war on drugs.' .

Human rights advocates hold placards condemning extrajudicial killings during a mass at the Redemptorist Church in Manila, August 10, 2016.

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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.

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.

Duterte also argued that ICC does not have jurisdiction over his person since the Rome Statute could not actually be enforced in the country.

Roque said ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda violated the court's principle of complementarity by initiating a preliminary examination, .

The Philippines is a signatory to the Rome Statute, a multilateral treaty that created the global court.

However, the country has yet to file a formal notice to withdraw from the global tribunal. "We need to notify the ICC and only after a year can the withdawal take effect", he added.

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. In the country, a law must be published in the Official Gazette or newspapers before it takes effect, he said.

The Philippine president's decision comes amid a bitter conflict between him and the United Nations as Duterte has been waging war of words with the global body for a long time already.

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