Philippines' Duterte to issue notice of withdrawal from ICC

The ICC announced in February that it was launching a “preliminary examination” of Mr Duterte’s bloody crackdown on drugs

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says his country is withdrawing its ratification of a world treaty that created the International Criminal Court, where he's facing a possible complaint for crimes against humanity.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has chose to look into the Philippines' drug-war, on the ground of legal counsel Jude Sabio's 77-page communication, accusing Duterte of committing crimes against humanity for purportedly inciting the killings of alleged drug offenders in the country. He said the Rome Statute that established the tribunal for heinous leaders can not be enforced in the Philippines because it has not been made public as required by law after Filipino senators ratified it in 2011.

The statement, which has yet to be signed by Duterte, was given to reporters by presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, who confirmed to Reuters that the document was authentic.

He stressed that that ICC's rule on the withdrawal of a state party would no longer apply for the reason "that there appears to be fraud in entering such agreement", noting that the United Nations seemed to have a "concerted effort" to "paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extra-judicial killings".

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".

But the maverick former mayor has hit back strongly and refused to change his approach, or accept that police may have executed suspected dealers, as activists allege.

Police deny allegations of murder and cover-ups and say they killed about 4,100 drug dealers in shootouts. They say they have no ties to unidentified armed men who have killed as many as 2,300 drug users and peddlers.

FILE PHOTO: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces the disbandment of police operations against illegal drugs at the Malacanang palace in Manila, Philippines early January 30, 2017. He even said he would prefer a firing squad than life in jail.

He has, however, changed his tune in recent weeks, telling security forces not to cooperate should there be any global investigation.

"It is apparent that the ICC is being utilised as a political tool against the Philippines", he said.

The ICC's preliminary examination into the complaint seeks to establish whether crimes have taken place. Such a process typically takes years.

In addition, the United Nations and ICC are conducting investigations into Duterte's alleged extrajudicial killings as the Philippine government wages a full-on war against drug lords.

"Looks like they are really afraid. Why?"

"The very considerations upon which the Philippines agreed to be a signatory of the Rome Statute have not been observed nor complied, with hence the rescission of such agreement or the withdrawal of the our country's ratification of the Rome Statute is in order", he added.

ICC prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment.

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