International Criminal Court to Philippines: Don't quit

International Criminal Court to Philippines: Don't quit

In a statement to Al Jazeera, Param-Preet Singh, associate director at the Human Rights Watch's International Justice programme, said Duterte's decision was not surprising as he "has long showed disdain for the rule of law".

A decision of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to pull his country out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will encourage other states to follow the suit, marking "the beginning of the end" for the ICC, the spokesman of Duterte, Harry Roque, said Thursday.

Lawyers say the withdrawal does not insulate Mr Duterte from a possible indictment, as the ICC's jurisdiction retroactively covers the period during which a country was a member of the court.

In recent months, the Philippine government has lashed out against United Nations rapporteurs on human rights, issuing threats against officials such as Agnes Callamard, who is investigating extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.

"If the President believes that he is innocent of the charges lodged against him, if the countless extrajudicial killings (EJKs) under his bloody drug war are just the product of our imagination, and if his government's war against drugs is not abusive and corrupt, he has nothing to fear from the ICC, " she pointed out.

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Roque added that no other Asian nations would join the ICC now since the Philippines was the one previously trying to convince them to become a member of the tribunal.

In response to Duterte's decision, a majority of the Philippine senators signed a resolution declaring that termination or withdrawal from the agreement is only "valid and effective" with their consent.

"The government affirms its commitment to fight against impunity for atrocity crimes, notwithstanding its withdrawal from the Rome Statute, especially since the Philippines has a national legislation punishing atrocity crimes", the letter said.

In contrast with the contention of the Office of the President, Centerlaw contended that there is no further requirement of publication in any newspaper of general circulation "to make the treaty binding upon the Philippines. What we're saying is [the ICC] will not have juristidction over the President's person", he added.

Last month, Duterte said that he was willing to be put behind bars by the ICC if it meant that the war on drugs would continue until the end of his term.

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Duterte's bloody campaign has caused global alarm and fierce criticism from some United Nations representatives, including High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who on Friday said Duterte should submit himself for a psychiatric examination.

The Duterte administration's obstinacy and truculence could result in a failure in the war on drugs despite more lives lost and eventually, the President and his top officials would be held accountable for their crimes against humanity and the Filipino people. How could it counter the criticisms that the war on drugs is mainly targeting the poor? "Detaching from the Rome Statute is abandoning a global bastion for the protection of human rights", Lagman said.

Under Article 127 of the Rome Statute, a state party's withdrawal from the treaty can only take effect a year after the written notification is received by the UN Secretary-General.

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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