Friday, 21 September, 2018

Philippines Says Its Exit Marks 'Beginning of the End' for ICC

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a statement in Manila in Nov. 2017. Duterte will withdraw the Philippines from the Rome Statute the treaty that established the International Criminal Court, according to a statement released to reporte Philippines Says Its Exit Marks 'Beginning of the End' for ICC
Melinda Barton | 16 March, 2018, 00:04

The ICC earlier announced it would begin preliminary examination on the administration's controversial war on drugs, in response to a communication filed by Sabio in April 2017.

"The government must show good faith by fully cooperating with ICC processes including the current preliminary examination which can not be terminated by this withdrawal", Gascon said in a statement. Duterte said in his statement this would not apply to the Philippines as "there appears to be fraud in entering [into] such [an] agreement".

The Philippines ratified the Rome Statute in 2011, thus subjecting itself to the ICC's jurisdiction.

An ICC spokesman referred most questions to the court's prosecutors, who could not immediately be reached.

While Philippine presidents, including Duterte, are immune from domestic lawsuits while in office, two Filipino heads of state have been prosecuted and detained immediately after they stepped down, Roque said to demonstrate that officials could be held to account in the Philippines.

Rights advocates and attorneys said quitting the court would not eliminate the possibility of a case before it.

But Duterte said the treaty "is not effective nor enforceable in the Philippines".

"This is the beginning of the end of the court", he said, adding that the ICC would have no jurisdiction over the Philippines, and it was unlikely Duterte would ever be handed over to the court. A signatory country also can "not be discharged" of any cases already pending in the court before the withdrawal.

Created in 1998 through the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over 124 of its members, including the Philippines.

It said the withdrawal from the Rome Statue was due to the "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person as well as against my administration" by United Nations officials, and what he said was an attempt by the ICC prosecutor to seek jurisdiction over him "in violation of due process and presumption of innocence".

The prosecutor's analysis of "drug war" crimes could result in a formal ICC investigation if there is proof the violations amount to crimes against humanity, and in the absence of justice in national courts. Any deaths which occurred were "in the process of legitimate police operations lacked the intent to kill".

In February, the ICC announced that it had 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.

Secondly, no other Asians would join the ICC now.

Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said Duterte felt the ICC had become "a tool of oppression, a tool of harassment".

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Zeid's statement that Duterte should see a psychiatrist "convinced" the President "that there must be some kind of a conspiracy on the part of pressure groups and United Nations officials to shame him".

Human rights and jurist groups condemned him for what they saw as an attempt to evade justice and accountability, and said a withdrawal was pointless, because jurisdiction applied retroactively, for the period of membership.