Philippines to pull out of ICC 'immediately', Duterte says

Nellie Chapman
March 14, 2018

In February, the ICC announced that it has taken the first step to probe Duterte over possible crimes against humanity in relation to his ongoing drug war, which has left as many as 20,000 people dead.

In a statement signed by Duterte on Wednesday, he declared that The Hague-based organisation "has no jurisdiction nor will it acquire jurisdiction" over him.

Duterte said that even if the ICC has jurisdiction over him, the accusations against him "do not fall under the enumerated grounds" of the global law.

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

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said Friday that Duterte needs to see a psychiatrist over his crude comments, including a threat to slap U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard, and the inclusion of U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz on a list of alleged communist terrorists operating in the country.

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". He said 1,400 individuals were killed by the so-called Davao Death Squad under the leadership of then Mayor Duterte, and 7,000 individuals were killed in the government's war on drugs since Duterte took office. On several occasions, he called the global body "useless" following ICC calls for probes into Duterte's notorious 'war on drugs.' .

Police deny allegations of murder and cover-ups and say they killed about 4,100 drug dealers in shootouts, but have nothing to do with an estimated 2,300 largely unsolved drug-related homicides.

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The ICC's examination seeks to establish whether crimes have taken place, and such a process typically takes years.

Duterte's bloody campaign has caused worldwide alarm and fierce criticism from some United Nations representatives, including High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who on Friday said Duterte should submit himself for a psychiatric examination.

But Article 127 of the Rome Statute also explicitly says that criminal investigations and proceedings that have been started before the withdrawal came into effect will still continue.

"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.

Baguilat hopes that Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., a former human rights lawyer who had pushed for the ratification of the Rome treaty, can provide better advice to the President.

Senator Antonio Trillanes said Duterte was withdrawing "because he knows that there is no way out for him in the ICC". The campaign has led to thousands of deaths among suspected drug users and dealers.

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