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Philippines withdraw from ICC after 'outrageous attacks'

Philippines withdraw from ICC after 'outrageous attacks'

The Philippines has given official notice to the United Nations that it will exit the treaty underpinning the International Criminal Court, the government said Friday.

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

"The membership of the Philippines in the system is essential for the aspirations toward universal ratification of the Rome Statute and strengthening the worldwide rule of law", it added.

"The government affirms its commitment to fight against impunity for atrocity crimes, notwithstanding its withdrawal from the Rome Statute, especially since the Philippines has a national legislation punishing atrocity crimes", the letter said.

"Our decision to pull out of the Court is a principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights", Cayetano said in a statement issued shortly after arriving on Friday in Sydney.

The Philippine government insists the ICC has no business looking at the war on drugs, because its courts and legal processes are functional and independent.

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.

"The so-called war against drugs is lawfully directed against drug lords and pushers who have for many years destroyed the present generation, specially the youth", Duterte said in a 15-page statement explaining his legal position.

Roque said that the ICC, in compliance with its complementarity rule, can only exercise jurisdiction over an individual if the local courts are unable to or unwilling to act on a certain case.

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

The ICC has urged the Philippines to reconsider its decision, since it is one of the few Asian countries that have ratified the Rome Statute, while human rights organisations said a withdrawal from the ICC does not exonerate Duterte from his alleged crimes.

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.

"No new countries will join because we are recognized as probably the number one defender of human rights and democracy in the world", added Mr Roque.

The ICC, through prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, announced last month that she would look into the drug-related killings.

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

Duterte, who is buoyed by high popularity ratings at home, has fiercely defended the drug war as a battle to bring safety to the nation's 100 million people. ICC conducted the probe in response to a communication filed by Atty.

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.

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.

Lagman expressed fear that the global community will lose trust in the Philippines "because a country which does not honor its commitments does not deserve the trust of other states".


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