Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Duterte Orders Philippines Withdrawl from International Criminal Court

Women protest against President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to set up a Revolutionary Government in Manila Philippines last year. Reuters Women protest against President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to set up a Revolutionary Government in Manila Philippines last year. Reuters
Judith Alexander | 17 March, 2018, 01:56

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday (March 16) urged the Philippines not to withdraw from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, as it warned that quitting the court would have no impact on ongoing proceedings.

If anything, it may embolden the ICC to take a tougher stance and move ahead with prosecution of specific officials.

He accused United Nations special rapporteurs and ICC investigators of painting him as a "ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings".

Under the statute, the ICC can only investigate and prosecute the crimes in situations where states are "unable" or "unwilling" to do so themselves.

He said the United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, had without any proof "pictured me as a ruthless violator of human rights" who was directly responsible for extrajudicial killings.

Zeid demanded that the Human Rights Council, which counts the Philippines among its 47 member countries, "must take a strong position" on the issue, and insisted "these attacks can not go unanswered".

The court said Manila's membership is essential in "strengthening the global rule of law".

In response to Duterte's decision, a majority of the Philippine senators signed a resolution declaring that termination or withdrawal from the agreement is only "valid and effective" with their consent.

According to ICC rules, it will now take one year for the withdrawal to take effect if the Philippines does not change its mind.

Lawyers say the withdrawal does not insulate Mr Duterte from a possible indictment, as the ICC's jurisdiction retroactively covers the period during which a country was a member of the court.

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There are now 123 parties to the ICC, including the Philippines.

Police claim they have killed around 4,000 drugs suspects, while rights groups suggest the figure could be far higher.

Last week, he said the ICC would "not in a million years" have jurisdiction to indict him.

He said the withdrawal was not a way to evade an ICC investigation.

The ICC in February began examining alleged crimes committed during the controversial anti-drugs crackdown.

While in theory withdrawal would not stop the court's inquiry into alleged crimes committed while the Philippines was a member, it could prove hard to make local authorities co-operate.

"I encourage the Philippines to remain as a party to the Rome Statute", he said in a statement. "Neither is it a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity", he said.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman (PL, Albay) said Duterte's refusal to be investigated by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity "is a virtual admission of culpability since innocence does not select or discriminate a forum".

Article 127 of the Rome Statute states that even if a party withdraws from the treaty, it "shall not be discharged, by reason of its withdrawal, from the obligations arising from this Statute while it was a Party to the Statute, including any financial obligations which may have accrued".

Lagman expressed fear that the worldwide community will lose trust in the Philippines "because a country which does not honor its commitments does not deserve the trust of other states".

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