Duterte demands review of dropped cases against drug kingpins

Duterte demands review of dropped cases against drug kingpins

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he is withdrawing the Pacific nation from the International Criminal Court, which has begun a probe into accusations of crimes against humanity involving Duterte's deadly anti-drug crackdown.

"Duterte can not stop global accountability in the Philippines simply by deleting his signature from the Rome Statute".

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

The ICC's examination was premature, he added, and "effectively created the impression that I am to be charged ... for serious crimes falling under its jurisdiction".

The prime minister says the president of the Philippines was receptive to concerns he raised about human rights.

"Coupled with the implication of culpability that the preliminary examination by the prosecutor Fatou Besouda unduly and maliciously created, it is apparent that the ICC is being utilised as a political tool against the Philippines", he said.

The Philippines became the 117th state party to the Rome Statute in August 2011 following Senate ratification of the treaty.

He said it will also encourage China to scoff at the Philippines' victory at the UN Arbitral Tribunal over the West Philippine Sea and physically wrest sovereignty over the Philippine islands.

Duterte said last month he wasn't threatened by ICC complaints against him.

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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"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 in a statement.

"Since this administration is so convinced that its drug war is justified and that there are no human rights violations then it should have nothing to fear about being investigated by the ICC", Baguilat said.

Duterte, a former prosecutor, had said the ICC could not have jurisdiction over him. On several occasions, he called the global body "useless" following ICC calls for probes into Duterte's notorious 'war on drugs.' .

Opposition Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate called Duterte's move to withdraw the country from the Rome Statute a "grave setback to human rights and accountability".

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.

Senator Antonio Trillanes said Duterte was withdrawing "because he knows that there is no way out for him in the ICC".

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. "We need to notify the ICC and only after a year can the withdawal take effect", he added.

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

He noted that the deaths related to the drug war could not be considered crimes against humanity because these were a "direct result of a lawful exercise of a police duty". In the country, a law must be published in the Official Gazette or newspapers before it takes effect, he said.

Duterte, who is buoyed by high popularity ratings in the Philippines, has fiercely defended the drug war as a battle to bring safety to the nation's 100 million people.

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