Catholic leaders criticise Duterte's withdrawal of Philippines from ICC

Philippines to withdraw from ICC for 'violations of due process'

Duterte removes Philippines from International Criminal Court

The president stated that the ICC had demonstrated "brazen ignorance of the law" and due to its alleged fraudulent implication in the Philippines, the Rome Statute was null and could not, therefore, be enforced.

"There appears to be a concerted effort on the part of the United Nations special rapporteurs to paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings", Duterte said.

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.

They allege that Duterte's drug war represented a systematic, state-sanctioned act of violence against a specific group, namely suspected drug dealers and users, in violation of due process, basic principles of human rights and global humanitarian law.

As of October 2017, 123 countries, including the Philippines, were party to the treaty, which established four core worldwide crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

"He wants to be immune and act with impunity both under domestic law and under global law", he said in a statement.

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.

Second, the country's withdrawal from the ICC does not absolve it from its unfulfilled obligations and from crimes committed while it was still a signatory.

Human Rights Watch called it "a barefaced attempt to shield him and high-ranking officials", noting that withdrawal took a year and the ICC could still prosecute global crimes committed while the Philippines was a member.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed that Mr Duterte has instructed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to issue the notice.

Best known as a human rights lawyer before, Roque was one of the first individuals who celebrated when the country ratified its membership in the ICC back in 2011.

The US and Russian Federation withdrew from the Statute years after signing it, while China, India and the majority of Asian nations never ratified the treaty and are not part of the Hague-based court.

He reiterated that Duterte was willing to face the allegations against him but the ICC had no jurisdiction over him.

The ICC tries people for "genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression", according to its website.

Sister Mary John Mananzan, a Benedictine nun who helped organize the Movement Against Tyranny opposition group, said Duterte's withdrawal from the ICC was "cowardly".

While in theory withdrawal would not stop the court's inquiry into alleged crimes committed while the Philippines was a member, it could prove hard to make local authorities co-operate.

Under the treaty, withdrawal is only effective one year after a country gives written notice of its decision to the United Nations secretary-general.

"It's a proof that she (Bensouda) is politicking the President, most especially a politician filed [the communication before the ICC]". China has called on the global community to respect the Philippines' sovereignty on the issue.

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