Philippines Withdraws From ICC

Duterte withdraws from international rights treaty following criticism of war on drugs

Last month, the ICC announced that it would begin a preliminary examination on alleged extrajudicial killings associated with the president's bloody drug war.

Duterte said Wednesday that the global court can not acquire jurisdiction over him.

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.

Numerous killings have been carried out by vigilante groups after Duterte gave them a free pass to shoot alleged drug dealers.

The outspoken leader, who is accused of stoking the killing of drug suspects with inflammatory statements, has fiercely pushed back since the Philippines became the first southeast Asian nation put under "preliminary examination" by the court's prosecutors. He said the Rome Statute that established the tribunal for heinous leaders can not be enforced in the Philippines because it has not been made public as required by law after Filipino senators ratified it in 2011. The preliminary investigation is still ongoing as of Wednesday, according to the ICC page on Duterte's 'war on drugs' campaign.

It said the move was due to the "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person as well as against my administration" by United Nations officials, and what he said was an attempt by the ICC prosecutor to seek jurisdiction over him "in violation of due process and presumption of innocence".

"The acts allegedly committed by me are neither genocide nor war crimes".

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces the disbandment of police operations against illegal drugs at the Malacanang palace in Manila on January 30, 2017. "Neither is it a crime of aggression or a crime against humanity", he said.

Critics expressed shock at Duterte's decision, saying he was trying to escape accountability and fearing it could foster an even worse human rights situation in the country.

His officials have also said Manila can cite a provision that the ICC cannot assume jurisdiction over a country whose legal system is still functioning.

Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque also said they would refuse a visit by one such rapporteur Agnes Callamard, who had previously been pressing to investigate.

The Hague-based tribunal announced last month that it had opened a preliminary examination of a complaint filed a year ago by a Philippine lawyer over the president's anti-drug campaign, which has left 4,000 dead since Duterte took office in 2016. A self-confessed drug dealer was among those cleared. He has refused to accept some police may be systematically executing suspected dealers, as activists say.

He added: "However, President Duterte won't save himself from ICC investigation by withdrawing the Philippines as a State Party to the Rome Statute".

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents and police secure a part of a street as they search a house during a drug raid in Maharlika Village, Taguig, south of Manila on February 28.