PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE WITHDRAWS FROM ICC AND CALLS OTHER COUNTRIES TO FOLLOW




Hatim Khan - 19.03.2018 - Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines had announced last Wednesday that Philippines shall be withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). On Sunday, while delivering a speech before the annual cadet graduation ceremony at the Philippine Military Academy, the President urged other nations to follow Philippines lead and withdraw from the Court based in Hague as well, as he said, "I will convince everybody now who are under the treaty at ICC: 'Get out, get out, it's rude".

This reaction from the President comes in response to last month's developments in the ICC. Fatou Bensouda who is a prosecutor, announced that due to complaints from a Philippine lawyer, she was opening an examination in to the complaints that the President's "war on drugs" campaign has resulted in massive extrajudicial killings that could amount to crimes against humanity under international law. During his speech on Sunday, he also questioned the legitimacy of the Rome Statute and stated that it does not have jurisdiction to trail and prosecute him and will not have it "in a million years". This is because, the treaty has still not been made effective under the Article 2 of the civil code of Philippines. Even though the Philippine Senate had ratified it, it had not been published in the official journal of the republic of Philippines (Official Gazette) as the law requires, therefore it had never been enforced in the Philippines because the treaty had yet not become effective and hence is still not enforceable. He also stated that the domestic laws have supremacy over the international law.

The President's efforts to persuade Countries to leave ICC lies in his justification that the ICC is a biased organization that is used as a political tool. He accused the ICC of being an EU sponsored treaty that was being used as a tool, through which "white idiots at EU" tried to "atone" for the atrocities they have committed in Africa and the Middle East in the past. He also said that ICC has tried to tarnish his image and portray him as a tyrant who shall be charged in the international court by "prematurely" publicizing their intention of preliminary examination of the case.

However, the President's unilateral decision to withdraw from ICC has not come without opposition and criticism as human rights groups say that the President is clearly trying to avoid any accountability by individually declaring Philippine's withdrawal from the statute. The critics also argue that the President may need the approval of the senate that ratified the statute since last February a Senate Resolution had been filed which declared that the senate has a say in the "termination of any treaty or international agreement". However, the Senate Resolution No. 289 that the critics point to has not been adopted yet.