Philippines formally withdraws from International Criminal Court

Duterte moves to quit Int’l Criminal Court

The ICC has urged the Philippines to reconsider its decision, since it is one of the few Asian countries that have ratified the Rome Statute, while human rights organisations said a withdrawal from the ICC does not exonerate Duterte from his alleged crimes.

ICC prosecutors have yet to comment on the announcement.

The ICC can investigate and prosecute these crimes in a country when local authorities do not.

They allege that Duterte's drug war represented a systematic, state-sanctioned act of violence against a specific group, namely suspected drug dealers and users, in violation of due process, basic principles of human rights and worldwide humanitarian law.

As one of the original signatories and framers of the United Nations Human Rights Charter, the Philippines has long stood as a bastion of human rights and democracy in Asia.

Quitting the court requires a year's notice and experts say pulling out does not preclude an investigation of the killings, which have drawn worldwide concern.

They said Duterte's decision was an admission of guilt and a sign that he was panicking.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is not happy with the International Criminal Court and has fiercely defended the drug war as a battle to bring safety to the nation's 100 million people.

Mr Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, said on Thursday the ICC examination into the killing of drug suspects "violates the very fundamental basis by which we gave our consent to be bound by the ICC", referring to a principle of complementarity.

Duterte had initially dared the ICC to indict him, saying he was willing to rot in jail to save Filipinos from drugs, which he says are destroying his country.

The ICC's initial review of the alleged human rights violations linked to the Philippines' fight against illegal drugs was based on the communications lodged by lawyer Jude Sabio, and opposition lawmakers Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Gary Alejano. The panel of prosecutors is blaming the police who, they said, were not able to gather the evidence to merit the filing of a case.

In a statement, the global 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.

He also claimed that the drug-related killings under his administration were not genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity, but a result of legitimate police operations.

"To prove that it's not a way of evading or getting away from consequences or the jurisdiction of ICC ... even if we withdraw, our actions back when we're a member are still covered", he said as quoted by the state-run Philippine News Agency. "Detaching from the Rome Statute is abandoning a global bastion for the protection of human rights", Lagman said.

Alejano noted that Article 127 of the Rome Statute states that a state party may withdraw membership by written notification addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the withdrawal shall only take effect a year after receipt of the notification.

Lagman expressed fear that the worldwide community will lose trust in the Philippines "because a country which does not honor its commitments does not deserve the trust of other states".

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