Duterte still obligated to cooperate with ICC investigation despite withdrawal

Duterte still obligated to cooperate with ICC investigation despite withdrawal

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

"This is an embarrassing attempt to create legal cover, and a self-serving effort to avoid accountability and place himself above Philippine and worldwide law", said Sam Zarifi, Secretary General of the global Commission of Jurists.

Yesterday the Philippines said in a letter to the United Nations, which oversaw negotiations to found the court, it was pulling out of the Rome Statute.

Human rights and jurist groups condemned him for what they saw as an attempt to evade justice and accountability, and said a withdrawal was pointless, because jurisdiction applied retroactively, for the period of membership.

In a 15-page statement, President Duterte declared that the Philippines will withdraw from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court.

Duterte has insisted that the ICC has no jurisdiction over him. He said 1,400 individuals were killed by the so-called Davao Death Squad under the leadership of then Mayor Duterte, and 7,000 individuals were killed in the war on drugs since Duterte took office.

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.

The president of the court's governing body, the Assembly of State Parties (ASP), expressed concern at the move by Manila.

And while the statute plainly states that a withdrawal cannot take effect for at least a year, Duterte said the Philippines can leave the accord immediately, because it's original decision to join was tainted by fraud.

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ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is conducting a preliminary examination of the allegations against Duterte continues to push for a relentless campaign against illegal drugs. Human rights lawyer Jude Sabio and opposition leaders Antonio Trillanes and Gary Alejano pressed separate and independeent charges of crimes against humanity against the Duterte administration.

Worldwide organizations and actors have become increasingly concerned over alleged human rights abuses under Duterte, as security forces continue to wage war on other destabilizing groups such as communists insurgents and the Islamic State.

The ICC in February began examining alleged crimes committed during the controversial anti-drugs crackdown.

Worldwide jurist groups and activists have criticised Mr Duterte for what they say is an attempt to evade justice. He added that he already brought this matter up before the ICC but it paid no heed to him.

Harry Roque, the presidential spokesman, also predicted in a separate TV interview that the country's withdrawal would result in an "avalanche" of countries also leaving the ICC.

Philippines to Declare 600 Alleged Communists "Terrorists"?

Is Duterte afraid of the ICC?

Article 127 of the Rome Statute states that even if a party withdraws from the treaty, it "shall not be discharged, by reason of its withdrawal, from the obligations arising from this Statute while it was a Party to the Statute, including any financial obligations which may have accrued".

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