Philippines Withdraws From ICC

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

Philippines Withdraws From 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.

In his statement, Duterte cited "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on his person as well my administration".

But Roque has also said the ICC has no jurisdiction over the case because the tribunal was intended as a "court of last resort" and the Philippine courts were fully functioning.

It would take a year from Duterte's declaration for the Philippines - which signed on to the court in 2000 but wasn't ratified until 2011 - one year from the day to be considered withdrawn from the ICC.

Established in 1998, the ICC is tasked with prosecuting people accused of war crimes, genocide and other high crimes when domestic courts are unwilling or unable to investigate allegations or prosecute suspects.

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ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, responding to a complaint from a Philippine lawyer, in February began a preliminary examination of Duterte's battle against drug traffickers. However, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) estimate that up to 12,000 people could have fallen victim to the notorious campaign.

He also defended the police officers involved in the deadly drug operations, saying they "lacked the intent to kill".

He added that the deaths were the result of police defending themselves, "a justifying circumstance under our criminal law, hence they do not incur criminal liability".

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

Russian Federation in 2016 dealt the ICC another blow by withdrawing its signature from the Rome Statute. South Africa also withdrew in 2016 following criticism that it hosted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir at an African Union summit, despite him facing an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes. The president renewed his verbal attacks against United Nations human rights officials who have expressed alarm over the massive killings.

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Duterte, however, argues that the Philippines can do as it pleases because he rejects the agreement as a whole.

According to ICC rules, a withdrawal is effective one year after receipt of notification. It further provides that "a State shall not be discharged, by reason of its withdrawal, from the obligations arising from this Statute while it was a Party to the Statute".

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told CNN Philippines that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines because the country's ratification to the Rome Statute was not published on the Official Gazette.

Congressman Carlos Isagani Zarate likewise slammed the withdrawal as "ominous" and a "grave setback to human rights and accountability".

Senator Antonio Trillanes said Duterte was withdrawing "because he knows that there is no way out for him in the ICC". "This is ominous of an even worse human rights situation in the country", he said.

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