Duterte: Philippines withdrawing from International Criminal Court treaty


Secondly, no other Asians would join the ICC now.

Mr Duterte cited the "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person as against my administration, engineered by the officials of the United Nations, as well as the attempt by the (ICC) special prosecutor to place my person within the jurisdiction of the (ICC)".

Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, said the ICC was "siding with the enemies of the president", while Duterte's legal counsel Salvador Panelo said the accession to the Rome Statute in 2011 was never announced in the Philippines official gazette, thus did not apply.

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.

The president's announcement comes just one month after the ICC launched its investigation into human rights abuses allegedly conducted by the president throughout his war on drugs which has led to the murder of an estimated 8,000 people since his election in 2016. He dared the ICC to indict him.

The Philippines says its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) could be "the beginning of the end" for the institution, as more countries would follow suit and non-members would be discouraged from joining.

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

Opposition Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate called Duterte's move to withdraw the country from the Rome Statute a "grave setback to human rights and accountability".

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ICC prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment.

Duterte also said that the accusations and statements of United Nations (UN) special rapporteur Agnes Callamard and the High Commissioner on Human Rights Zaid Ra'ad al-Hussein shows "international bias" and the refusal of global community to support the country's "legitimate efforts and self-determination, nation building and independence from foreign influence and control".

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.

Panelo insisted Duterte was not afraid, but objected to the ICC becoming "a political tool to harass a particular country, like ours".

In a statement, the worldwide court noted Manila's intention to withdraw based on news reports but emphasized that it has yet to be notified by the United Nations Secretary-General, the depositary of the Rome Statute.

Duterte's chief critics said the move was a U-turn that showed the tough-talking leader was now in panic mode.

The bloodshed during the war on drugs, Duterte's signature policy, has caused global alarm and fierce criticism from several United Nations rapporteurs and human rights officials. How could it counter the criticisms that the war on drugs is mainly targeting the poor? He argued Wednesday that the killings do not amount to crimes against humanity, genocide or similar atrocities.

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".