Duterte to withdraw Philippines from International Criminal Court


Celeste Mallari, a professor at the Philippines College of Law, said the court can "investigate any acts that have been done from the time the Philippines became a member of the ICC. until one year after we gave our notice of withdrawal".

"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.

According to media reports, Duterte is dissatisfied with "attacks" on him and his administration from the part of United Nations officials as well as an "attempt" by the ICC to place him under the court's jurisdiction.

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.

Under ICC rules, a state's withdrawal takes effect one year after the global tribunal receives notification of its decision to leave.

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

Founded in 2002, the court can prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes when national courts are unable or unwilling.

The president's decision has been widely criticised by human rights advocates and his political foes.

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.

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"Fortunately for those victims, Duterte's announced withdrawal comes too late to stop the ICC's preliminary examination and the Philippines' obligations towards the court". On several occasions, he called the global body "useless" following ICC calls for probes into Duterte's notorious 'war on drugs.' .

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 ICC in February began a preliminary investigation into Mr Duterte's controversial crackdown on the narcotics trade.

In February, the ICC said it had started a preliminary examination to establish whether it had jurisdiction, and if crimes against humanity had been committed.

By withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the ICC, the president is following in the footsteps of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and also The Gambia, which cited racism against "people of colour, especially Africans" as a reason for leaving.

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

Duterte also argued that ICC does not have jurisdiction over his person since the Rome Statute could not actually be enforced in the country. In the country, a law must be published in the Official Gazette or newspapers before it takes effect, he said.

In a statement, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said the government's withdrawal from the worldwide court does not terminate the ICC's ongoing preliminary examination.

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".