Philippines to quit International Criminal Court: Duterte


The Philippines is withdrawing from the International Criminal Court "effective immediately", President Rodrigo Duterte announced Wednesday.

In a 15-page statement released to the media, the President made a decision to withdraw the country's signature from the Rome Statute, a treaty that established the ICC, following what the President said was the lack of respect and clear bias against his government.

The move comes about a month after the ICC opened a preliminary examination into thousands of deaths linked to his violent campaign against suspected drug users and dealers.

Duterte added that the crimes attributed to him were neither war crimes nor genocide. A complaint was filed with the ICC by a Philippine lawyer past year.

The Philippine government insists the ICC has no business looking at the war on drugs, because its courts and legal processes are functional and independent.

The Philippines signed the Rome Statute of the ICC in 2000 and ratified it in 2011, becoming its 117th State Party.

Should the ICC's preliminary inquiries find evidence of crimes against humanity, the Philippines' sudden withdrawal from the statute would not protect Duterte from being put on trial. This was Duterte's response to UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, who suggested last week that the island nation's president should undergo a psychiatric examination because of his colorful comments.

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Two other United Nations special rapporteurs, Michel Forst and Catalina Devandas Aguilar, expressed "grave concern" about Ms Tauli-Corpuz being on the list, and said she was being punished by Mr Duterte for speaking against some of his policies.

He also stressed that the criminal acts hurled against him "do not fall under the enumerated grounds by which the ICC can assume jurisdiction".

"The deaths occurring in the process of legitimate police operation lacked the intent to kill", said Mr Duterte.

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.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said there was legal basis for the inclusion in the list of Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a United Nations special rapporteur on indigenous people, because of her alleged connections with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed component the New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

The Philippines will "bring to bear our national criminal justice system upon those who violate our laws", he told a gathering of ICC signatories last December.