Duterte to withdraw Philippines from International Criminal Court

Duterte to withdraw Philippines from International Criminal Court

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that the country will withdraw from the International Criminal Court "effective immediately", just weeks after the tribunal announced its investigation on possible crimes against humanity over his deadly war on drugs.

In his statement, Duterte cited "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on his person as well my administration".

"It is apparent that the ICC is being utilised as a political tool against the Philippines", Duterte said in a statement, adding the ICC examination was "unduly and maliciously created".

"The deaths occurring in the process of a legitimate police operation lacked the intent to kill".

The move comes a month after the ICC announced it was launching a "preliminary examination" of Duterte's bloody anti-drug crackdown that has seen thousands die in largely extrajudicial killings.

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.

Established in 1998, the ICC is tasked with prosecuting people accused of war crimes, genocide and other high crimes when domestic courts are unwilling or unable to investigate allegations or prosecute suspects. It relies on on local powers to arrest and bring suspects to the as it has no police force of its own.

"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.

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"I imagine this will be an worldwide embarrassment for the Philippines", said Hilbay, remarking that the country had once been seen as a regional leader in human rights.

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

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".

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. Sabio is the lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, who said he killed people in Davao City upon the orders of then then-Mayor Duterte.

Ms Callamard is leading a United Nations investigation into the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines and claims that Mr Duterte has tried to "intimidate" her and her fellow special rapporteurs.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents and police secure a part of a street as they search a house during a drug raid in Maharlika Village, Taguig, south of Manila on February 28.

It is only when the one-year period lapses that Duterte can say that the Philippines is no longer a member-state of the International Criminal Court.

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