Philippine leader urges nations to exit worldwide court

Philippine leader urges nations to exit worldwide court

Philippine leader urges nations to exit worldwide court

Though the Philippines has ratified the Rome Statute that established the ICC, Duterte said in a speech Sunday that the country never became a party to the treaty because it was never published locally as required by law.

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.

"It's very, very clear that our courts are working and nobody can escape from accountability, including a president", Roque told a news conference.

Roque insisted that the ICC was not the court of first instance but the court of last resort. "The court of primary jurisdiction should be the domestic courts".

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"He does not want to comment on this but since they (lawmakers) have already voted in the chamber, the President is against divorce", Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in an interview in Nabua, Camarines Sur.

The Hague-based ICC announced last month it was launching a "preliminary examination" of Duterte's bloody anti-drug crackdown that has drawn global concern. In 2016, Bensouda said she was deeply concerned about the reported violence and that statements by "high officials" in the Philippines "seem to condone such killings".

Roque earlier said Duterte will let Congress exercise its independence.

"I find it regrettable if the Philippines does indeed withdraw from Rome Statute because it will impact negatively on the global efforts to fight impunity for the most serious crimes, to prevent atrocities and bring justice to the victims", he said.

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On Friday, the Philippines formally notified the United Nations that it is withdrawing from the ICC, saying the stand was against "those who would politicize and weaponize human rights". Duterte also endorsed vigilante gangs and claimed to be personally responsible for extrajudicial killings.

Commission on Human Rights chief Chito Gascon said the Philippines has historically been at the forefront of the fight for global justice, but that Duterte's decision "constitutes a reversal that will be viewed as encouraging impunity to continue".

"For all the braggadocio that President Duterte has displayed throughout this ICC affair, one stands out: he is deathly afraid of the long arm of the ICC", the group said.

According to official figures, more than 4,000 people have been killed by the police in anti-drugs operations since Duterte came to power 18 months ago, although many believe the real figure could be double that.

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