Duterte withdrawing Philippines from Int'l Criminal Court

Wednesday, 14 Mar, 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.

In February, the ICC launched a preliminary inquiry into allegations of crimes against humanity committed by Duterte.

According to worldwide law, Duterte and the Philippines are under the jurisdiction of the ICC as a result of being a member of the court, and withdrawing would not change that jurisdiction retroactively. 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.

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

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.

But the maverick former mayor has hit back strongly and refused to change his approach, or accept that police may have executed suspected dealers, as activists allege.

Police claim they have killed almost 4,000 drugs suspects, while rights groups suggest the figure could be far higher. They say they have no ties to unidentified armed men who have killed as many as 2,300 drug users and peddlers.

He at first dared the ICC to indict him, saying he was willing to rot in jail for his people. He then said he would prefer a firing squad to prison.

He has, however, changed his tune in recent weeks, telling security forces not to cooperate should there be any worldwide investigation. He last week said the ICC would "not in a million years" have jurisdiction.

Jude Sabio, the Philippine lawyer who filed the ICC complaint past year, said Duterte's move was predictable, futile and created to appeal to his base.

The Philippines, under previous President Benigno Aquino, ratified in 2011 the Rome Statute that underpins the ICC, giving the tribunal authority to investigate crimes on its soil.

The ICC has since received over 12,000 complaints or communications.