Philippines moves to quit International Criminal Court

Philippines moves to quit International Criminal Court

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has, on Wednesday, said he will be withdrawing his country out of the treaty on which the International Criminal Court (ICC) was formed, after it began examining the country's deadly drugs war in February.

In a rare written statement to the media, Mr Duterte said that the Philippines will withdraw its ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty underpinning the court.

The Philippine leader, however, has insisted that the ICC lacks jurisdiction over him.

"This is a misguided and deeply regrettable move by President Duterte, and the latest signal that powerful individuals in the Philippines are more interested in covering up their own potential accountability for killings than they are in ensuring justice for the many victims of the country's brutal "war on drugs".

About 4,000 mostly urban poor Filipinos have been killed by police in the past 19 months in a brutal crackdown that has alarmed the worldwide community.

The ICC's examination was premature, he added, and "effectively created the impression that I am to be charged ... for serious crimes falling under its jurisdiction".

Duterte's bloody campaign has caused global 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.

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Local media reported on Monday, that the country's senate had filed a resolution saying the country's withdrawal from worldwide treaties would only be valid with its consent.

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. The deaths occurring in the process of legitimate police operations lacked the intent to kill, ' he added.

But the preliminary examination is only the first step in a long process that could take years - if the ICC even proceeds with an investigation. The Philippines says that is far from the case.

The President could not also detach immediately from the ICC since Article 127 of the Rome Statute, which the Philippines ratified in 2011, provides that the "withdrawal shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of the notification, unless the notification specifies a later date".

Duterte announced he is withdrawing the Philippines from the Rome Statute which gives the Hague-based ICC the authority to investigate crimes on its soil. Senator Risa Hontiveros said Duterte was desperate and "may have unwittingly displayed his fear of being proven guilty".

The president's decision has been widely criticised by human rights advocates and his political foes.

"President Duterte's withdrawal from the Rome Statute is meant to escape accountability by present and even future officials for crimes committed against the people and humanity". The campaign has led to thousands of deaths among suspected drug users and dealers.

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