Philippines to pull out of ICC 'immediately', Duterte says

Philippines to pull out of ICC 'immediately', Duterte says

Philippines to pull out of ICC 'immediately', Duterte says

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, which was opened in 2002.

However, the country has yet to file a formal notice to withdraw from the worldwide tribunal.

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

Police say they have killed almost 4,000 drug suspects as part of the campaign, while rights groups claim the toll is around three times the numbers given by authorities.

"This is a misguided and deeply regrettable move by President Duterte, and the latest signal that powerful individuals in the Philippines are more interested in covering up their own potential accountability for killings than they are in ensuring justice for the many victims of the country's brutal "war on drugs", Amnesty's Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific James Gomez said."Fortunately for those victims, Duterte's announced withdrawal comes too late to stop the ICC's preliminary examination and the Philippines" obligations towards the court".

"Given that the ICC shows a propensity for failing to give due respect to the State Parties of the Rome Statute, and that there is clear bias on the part of the United Nations against the Philippines, the Philippines may very well consider withdrawing from the Rome Statute", Duterte said in a statement, referring to the court's founding treaty.

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He made no mention of the withdrawal in a speech on Wednesday.

The Philippines acceded to the ICC in 2011, becoming the 117th country to join the court.

'I will invoke my power of supervision and control and will review (the) dismissal, ' Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, quoted the president as saying during a joint command conference with police and military officials on Tuesday evening.

"Since this administration is so convinced that its drug war is justified and that there are no human rights violations then it should have nothing to fear about being investigated by the ICC", Baguilat said.

The preliminary examination is not an investigation, the ICC said, but a process to see if there is basis to proceed with an investigation.

He also slammed the ICC for acting on "flimsy complaints filed by politicians". He has refused to accept some police may be systematically executing suspected dealers, as activists say.

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Once the office of Guterres receives the letter, the Philippine government has to wait for a year before the withdrawal takes effect.

The Philippine leader, however, has insisted that the ICC lacks jurisdiction over him.

But Article 127 of the Rome Statute also explicitly says that criminal investigations and proceedings that have been started before the withdrawal came into effect will still continue.

Philippine officials had initially said in February that the country was ready to cooperate but asked for fairness.

"President Duterte's withdrawal from the Rome Statute is meant to escape accountability by present and even future officials for crimes committed against the people and humanity".

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