Palace: Duterte not trying to avoid charges by ICC

18 March, 2018, 01:43 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Senator Alan Peter Cayetano gestures as he gave a previlege speech at the Session Hall in Senate of the Philippines in Pasay City on Monday

The Philippines on Thursday officially notified the United Nations that it has made a decision to opt out of the Rome Statute, the country's initial move to begin the process for its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In Manila, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reiterated that the President will not change his decision to withdraw from the ICC.

His legal counsel said because Philippines' entry into the Rome Statute was not announced in the country's official gazette, it did not apply.

ACT Teachers Party Rep. Antonio Tinio however said Duterte is not yet off-the-hook on the investigation of the global court even after he declared the withdrawal of the Philippines from the treaty.

According to Rome Statute's Article 127, a member-state's withdrawal will take effect a year after it notifies the Secretary General of the UN.

He warned that summary killings related to the war against drugs will continue unabated because "with the ICC kicked out, there will be no more major independent monitors or censors to rein in or guard against atrocities with imposable sanctions".

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Amnesty International called Duterte's decision "misguided" and "cowardly".

He dared the ICC to indict him.

Roque said that while a preliminary investigation was still as shady as ever, the President would be facing it head-on if it would materialize.

Under the principle, the ICC can step in and exercise jurisdiction if states are unable or unwilling to investigate crimes.

"Withdrawal does not take you out of the jurisdiction of the Rome Statute", he said.

Global jurist groups and activists have criticised Mr Duterte for what they say is an attempt to evade justice.

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Zeid demanded that the Human Rights Council, which counts the Philippines among its 47 member countries, "must take a strong position" on the issue, and insisted "these attacks can not go unanswered". Officials have said police officers fired at them in self-defense, as the suspects put up violent resistance.

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. He said the withdrawal was not a way to evade an ICC investigation. "Detaching from the Rome Statute is abandoning a global bastion for the protection of human rights", Lagman said. Senator Risa Hontiveros said Duterte was desperate and "may have unwittingly displayed his fear of being proven guilty".

Human rights groups, however, believe this number is understated as it does not include those killed by so-called vigilantes, some of whom were alleged to be state-sponsored. A signatory country also can "not be discharged" of any cases already pending in the court before the withdrawal.

Under the Article 127 of the Rome Statue, the withdrawal of the Philippines would become effective one year after the United Nations secretary-general received a written notice the State party.

Agnes Callamard, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, gestures while delivering a statement during a "Drug issues, Different Perspectives" forum at a compound of University of the Philippines in Quezon city, metro Manila, Phiippines May 5, 2017.

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