Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Rights groups: PH withdrawal from ICC won't halt proceedings vs Duterte

Rights groups: PH withdrawal from ICC won't halt proceedings vs Duterte

But in a 15-page statement, dated March 13, Duterte said he was withdrawing from the ICC's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, because of "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks" by United Nations officials, and ICC actions that he said failed to follow due process and presumption of innocence.

In a 15-page statement released to the media, the President chose to withdraw the country's signature from the Rome Statute, a treaty that established the ICC, following what the President said was the lack of respect and clear bias against his government.

"An worldwide law can not supplant, prevail or diminish a domestic law", he said, adding that the ICC announcement of an investigation on the drug war is a "violation of due process and constitutional presumption of innocence".

Adopted and signed by 123 states in 1998 at a conference in Rome, the treaty created the ICC and gave it jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

"The ICC was ratified by the Senate".

Opened in 2002, the ICC is the world's only permanent war crimes court and aims to prosecute the worst abuses when national courts are unable or unwilling.

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Duterte has been threatening to pull out of the Hague-based worldwide tribunal since the start of his presidential term in mid-2016.

An ICC prosecutor announced last month that she was opening a preliminary examination into alleged extrajudicial killings stemming from Duterte's anti-drug crackdown.

Adding pressure on Manila, in February, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva raised the country's human rights record with Iceland Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson calling on the Philippines to accept the visit of a UN Special Rapporteur.

On Wednesday Duterte, a former lawyer, attacked the ICC's preliminary examination into his anti-narcotics campaign saying it was "unduly and maliciously created". "Neither it is a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity", the president said in his statement.

He said: "In short, since the ICC has already commenced with proceedings regarding President Duterte's war on drugs, it has the authority to proceed and the Philippine government has the obligation to cooperate with an investigation, regardless of the notice of withdrawal".

He also threatened to cancel the Philippines' ICC membership and said European lawyers were "rotten", "stupid", and had a "brain like a pea".

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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.

Duterte bewailed that the worldwide court has been used as a "political tool against the Philippines", citing its baseless attempt to place him under its jurisdiction amid an inquiry into his war on illegal drugs.

Senator Antonio Trillanes and Congressman Gary Alejano sent a supplementary communication several months later urging an ICC investigation, which included a list of public statements made by Duterte that they said amounted to "shoot-to-kill" orders.

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

Duterte also argued that ICC does not have jurisdiction over his person since the Rome Statute could not actually be enforced in the country.

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