Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Philippines to Withdraw from the ICC Immediately: Duterte

Duterte Withdrawing Philippines from International Criminal Court Philippines to withdraw from ICC for 'violations of due process'
Andrew Cummings | 18 March, 2018, 01:40

The Philippines says it is withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to what President Rodrigo Duterte called "outrageous attacks" by United Nations officials and violations of due process by the ICC.

In Manila, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated that the President will not change his decision to withdraw from the ICC.

"This is the beginning of the end of the court, unfortunately", Roque said after Duterte announced on Wednesday the country's withdrawal from the ICC "effective immediately".

In a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the government said it was pulling out of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, which the Philippines ratified in 2011.

He slammed the preliminary examination of ICC prosecutor Fatou Besouda against the country's war on drugs, and the "international bias" of UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard and UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Zed Ra'ad al-Hussein against the human rights situation in the country. "You are to blame if ICC becomes part of the dustbin of history", he added.

Opened in 2002, the ICC is the world's only permanent war crimes court and aims to prosecute the worst abuses when national courts are unable or unwilling.

Ms Bensouda first said she was "deeply concerned" about reports of extrajudicial killings in October 2016, less than four months after Mr Duterte assumed office on a pledge to crack down on drug dealers.

Villarin said it could also embolden China, which has refused to comply with an worldwide arbitration ruling that invalidated its vast territorial claims in the South China Sea under a 1982 United Nations treaty.

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On the ICC's call for the Philippines not to leave the court, Roque said in an interview on GMA7's morning show, "Too late po, parang naka-alis na po ang tren [sa istasyon] (It's too late, the train has already left [the station])". "We resisted U.S. pressure not to join until we finally signed on only to have it weaponized against our democracy fighting an existential threat from the drug trade", Locsin said in the tweet.

"The membership of the Philippines in the system is essential for the aspirations toward universal ratification of the Rome Statute and strengthening the worldwide rule of law", it added.

Only the Philippines has taken the role of advocating that other countries in the region should become a member.

He said the Philippines' withdrawal has not been made official. "If I go to prison, I go to prison", Duterte said during the launching of the Malasakit programs for the Visayas in Cebu City on February 12.

Human rights groups, however, believe this number is understated as it does not include those killed by so-called vigilantes, some of whom were alleged to be state-sponsored. "Neither is it a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity", he said.

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The withdrawal takes effect one year after the secretary-general receives notification, according to ICC rules.

The shadow of potential ICC prosecution and the country's controversial withdrawal from the body will further complicate Manila's relations with Western partners, including Washington and Canberra, which have sought to maintain stable relations with the Southeast Asian partner.

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