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Groups: Duterte can't evade accountability by quitting court

17 March 2018

The Philippines said on Wednesday it is withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to what President Rodrigo Duterte called "outrageous" attacks by United Nations officials and violations of due process by the ICC.

Global 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. I can face the ICC.

"Because of the actions of a prosecutor, the International Criminal Court loses a strong ally in the Asian region because it has no other strong ally in the Asia except for the Philippines", he said in a briefing in Malacañang.

Sarah Elago, a Kabataan party representative, said, "Duterte intends to impose his fascist and tyrannical tendencies even against global critics".

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.

The president also said United Nations special rapporteurs - likely referring to Agnes Callamard the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings - had been undertaking a "concerted effort" to paint him as a "ruthless and heartless" violator of human rights.

"I would like to address myself to the International Court of Justice and to the prosecutors coming here to investigate: the war or the drive against drugs will not stop and it will last until the day I step out".

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The Palace official noted that the ICC did not observe its "complementarity principle" when it began its preliminary examination into the complaint filed against Duterte in connection with the high number of killings under his controversial war on drugs.

He said the prosecutor's decision to conduct a preliminary examination as a "wrong political move".

"To be candid, I never thought that membership in the ICC was possible, at least before I become geriatric. There is no hiding from the ICC, Mr. President.", she added.

"This campaign against President Duterte and the Philippines is being effectively carried out by elements who seek to undermine our government and who have successfully infiltrated the human-rights community and weaponized human-rights protection mechanisms to advance their goal of overthrowing our democratically installed government", Cayetano said.

"We are still under the (ICC) jurisdiction".

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.

He said the Philippines' withdrawal has not been made official. "But what happened before that, you are still liable", he said.

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In a January report, Human Rights Watch said Duterte's "war on drugs" has led to the deaths of over 12,000 Filipinos, mostly urban poor.

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.

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.

"Violation of human rights will aggravate". He argued Wednesday that the killings do not amount to crimes against humanity, genocide or similar atrocities.

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Rep. Gary Alejano (PL, Magdalo), also a member of the opposition bloc, said Duterte's pronouncement "has no binding effect on the membership of the country (in 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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Groups: Duterte can't evade accountability by quitting court