Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Running scared? Duterte withdraws from International Criminal Court

Running scared? Duterte withdraws from International Criminal Court

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.

"I therefore declare and forthwith give notice, as President of the Republic of the Philippines, that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately", he said in a statement.

The president cited "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks" against him and his administration.

Duterte also invoked presidential immunity from lawsuits, which he said prevents the ICC from investigating him while he is in office.

Countries can only withdraw one year after announcing their withdrawal, according to the guiding principles of the ICC.

According to Villarin, the Senate passed a resolution a year ago which requires Senate concurrence if the country withdraws from a treaty.

The ICC, established in 1998, is the first permanent worldwide court created to prosecute persons for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.

"The Philippines' intention to walk away from the International Criminal Court is unfortunate, but it doesn't shut the door on the prosecutor's scrutiny of the government's horrendous track record of grave abuses", said Param-Preet Singh of Human Rights Watch.

Thousands of mostly poor drug suspects have been killed under Duterte's drug crackdown.

In a statement, Duterte accused the ICC of violating his right to due process and presumption of innocence when a prosecutor with the tribunal announced the court was opening an investigation into Duterte's deadly war on drugs.

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"It is apparent that the ICC is being utilised as a political tool against the Philippines", Duterte said in a statement, adding the ICC examination was "unduly and maliciously created".

But Duterte pointed out that the actions of UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard and UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein showed "international bias and refusal" to support the country's efforts at self-determination, national building and independence from foreign influence and control.

The prime minister says the president of the Philippines was receptive to concerns he raised about human rights.

Duterte has warned he would put Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre in jail if both Lim and Espinosa go free, Roque said.

"There appears to be a concerted effort on the part of the United Nations special rapporteurs to paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings", Duterte said.

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.

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

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

He said it will also encourage China to scoff at the Philippines' victory at the UN Arbitral Tribunal over the West Philippine Sea and physically wrest sovereignty over the Philippine islands.

Philippine officials had initially said in February that the country was ready to cooperate but asked for fairness.

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