Friday, 21 September, 2018

Duterte withdraws from worldwide rights treaty following criticism of war on drugs

T125932Z_1762270716_RC192B40D9E0_RTRMADP_3_PHILIPPINES-DAILYLIFE-940x580 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte demands review of dropped cases vs alleged drug kingpins
Ellis Copeland | 14 March, 2018, 19:03

"I confirm that PRRD [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte] has directed the ES to give notice that we are withdrawing as a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court", the statement reads.

"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.

The Philippines is pulling out its support from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in protest against the "baseless" and "outrageous" attacks against the administration as well as violations of due process, President Duterte announced Wednesday.

"OTP (Office of the Prosecutor) would not be precluded from opening an investigation even if the Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute, and Amnesty International believes that the Philippines would also remain under a continuing obligation to cooperate with the Court even if it withdrew from the Rome Statute", it said.

"The ICC was ratified by the Senate".

The ICC is the first permanent institution having power to exercise jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of global concern such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression, and is seen to help end impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes.

"The Philippines' intention to walk away from the International Criminal Court is unfortunate, but it doesn't shut the door on the prosecutor's scrutiny of the government's horrendous track record of grave abuses", said Param-Preet Singh of Human Rights Watch.

"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".

Last month, the ICC announced that it would begin a preliminary examination on alleged extrajudicial killings associated with the president's bloody drug war.

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The preliminary investigation is still ongoing as of Wednesday, according to the ICC page on Duterte's 'war on drugs' campaign. Duterte complained that statements from United Nations officials showed they had already found him guilty.

In a statement, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said the government's withdrawal from the global court does not terminate the ICC's ongoing preliminary examination.

Police said almost 5,000 suspects have been killed in shootouts during drug raids since Mr Duterte took office in mid-June.

In February, the ICC launched a preliminary inquiry into allegations of crimes against humanity committed by Duterte.

Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque also said they would refuse a visit by one such rapporteur Agnes Callamard, who had previously been pressing to investigate the killings.

He said when the Philippines became a signatory to the Rome Statute, it was on the assumption that the global accepted principles of justice in relation to its constitutional requirement on due process would be upheld.

But Roque has also said the ICC has no jurisdiction over the case because the tribunal was intended as a "court of last resort" and the Philippine courts were fully functioning. In the country, a law must be published in the Official Gazette or newspapers before it takes effect, he said.

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

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