Philippines To Withdraw From ICC

By PCOO EDP via Wikimedia Commons

Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Republic of the Philippines, plans to pull his country out of the International Criminal Court (ICC), shortly after the launch of an investigation of a judicial body on crimes against humanity into his controversial war on drugs.

In a lengthy statement that was released last Wednesday, the Filipino strongman leader denounced what he dubs as an “outrageous” attack on his character by officials of the United Nations (UN). Duterte has been indicted for promoting extrajudicial killings and other rights abuses during his campaign to stamp out illegal drugs in the South-East Asian country.

Last February, the ICC said that it was investigating accusations that the Philippine president had committed various crimes against humanity.

Duterte initially welcomed the said move, suggesting that it would provide him with a chance to clear his name of any supposed wrongdoing. However, in a sudden turn of events, he has since decided that the judicial body has manifested a “brazen ignorance of the law.” He also said that the ICC was “hypocritical” and “useless.”

Police officials in the Philippines are thought to have killed over 4,100 people since President Duterte took office in May 2016, and various rights groups allege that about 8,000 others have been murdered during the war on drugs of the country. The Philippines has consistently said that its legal processes are independent and functional, while the police in the country deny accusations of murder and cover-ups.

The contentious bid of Duterte to clamp down on illegal drugs has long been a source of alarm internationally, with various countries and officials from the UN condemning the said campaign.

On Friday, the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations said that the maverick former mayor was in dire need of a psychiatric evaluation. Talking at a news conference, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that the attacks of Duterte on human rights activists were considered to be “unacceptable” and should not remain “unanswered.”

According to the guidelines of the ICC, a pledge to withdraw from the organisation would only become effective one year following the initial notification. Currently, the Philippines is under the jurisdiction of the ICC as a result of it being a member, while departing from the group does nothing to retroactively change its jurisdiction.