Philippines informs United Nations of ICC withdrawal

Duterte moves to quit Int’l Criminal Court

"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 utilized as a political tool against the Philippines", Duterte said in a statement distributed to media.

"An global 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".

Harry Roque, a spokesperson for President Duterte, said in response that the ICC lacked jurisdiction over the case, calling the ICC a "court of last resort".

Should the Philippines withdraw from the court it would not be the first to do so, as Burundi became the first nation to leave in October 2017. In the War on Drugs that began when Duterte took office in 2016, police say they've killed more than 4,000 pushers and users in shootouts; human rights groups say the death toll is more like 12,000 - many shot execution style. He dared the ICC to indict him.

"This is the beginning of the end of the court, unfortunately", Roque said after Duterte announced on Wednesday the country's withdrawal from the ICC "effective immediately".

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

Apart from the alleged ICC's "politicization" of Duterte's drug war, Roque said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein's recent remark that Duterte should take a psychiatric test also contributed to the pulling out of the Philippines' membership from the Hague-based court.

Earlier, the ICC clarified that their preliminary investigation, which was announced in February, was only a process of determining whether there is sufficient basis to continue with an actual investigation.

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The letter said the Philippines was withdrawing from the Rome Statute - which established the ICC in 1998 - as a "principled stand against those who politicise and weaponise human rights".

It's transformation into a potential rights-abusing pariah worthy of ICC indictment, regardless of eventual rulings or outcomes, will haunt Duterte's strongman legacy.

Duterte also said that the accusations and statements of United Nations (UN) special rapporteur Agnes Callamard and the High Commissioner on Human Rights Zaid Ra'ad al-Hussein shows "international bias" and the refusal of worldwide community to support the country's "legitimate efforts and self-determination, nation building and independence from foreign influence and control".

The Philippines ratified the treaty in 2011, which means the court has jurisdiction for crimes within its mandate committed from that year.

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.

He said the treaty, also known as the Rome Statute, which the Philippines signed on August 23, 2011, is not "effective nor enforceable" because it was not published in the Official Gazette.

Worldwide jurist groups and activists have criticised Mr Duterte for what they say is an attempt to evade justice. How could it counter the criticisms that the war on drugs is mainly targeting the poor? "Neither is it a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity", he said.

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