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

The ICC announced in February that it was launching a “preliminary examination” of Mr Duterte’s bloody crackdown on drugs

The ICC announced in February that it was launching a “preliminary examination” of Mr Duterte’s bloody crackdown on drugs Credit AP

The one-year period is "not applicable in so far as the effect of the withdrawal of the Philippines as a signatory to the Rome Statute is concerned, for the reason that there appears to be fraud in entering such agreement", according to the Philippines president.

The presidential spokesperson earlier confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to issue the ICC a notice of withdrawal.

Under ICC rules, a state's withdrawal takes effect one year after the worldwide tribunal receives notification of its decision to leave.

Roque said the country will comply with all the proper procedures in withdrawing from the ICC.

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.

"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".

But the preliminary examination is only the first step in a long process that could take years - if the ICC even proceeds with an investigation. He said: "How can you examine when the state party is no longer a member, has withdrawn?"

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Duterte's bloody campaign has caused global alarm and fierce criticism from some United Nations representatives, including High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who on Friday said Duterte should submit himself for a psychiatric examination.

"On the merits, one of the elements of the crime against humanity is murder, which is the crime of unlawful killing, and that any killing in connection with the drug war could not be unlawful killing because they are valid, legitimate police action", Roque said.

But he soon changed his tune, telling security forces not to cooperate in any global investigation, and that "not in a million years" would the ICC have jurisdiction. He has refused to accept some police may be systematically executing suspected dealers, as activists say.

Sabio accused Duterte of "repeatedly, unchangingly, and continuously" committing mass murder.

Duterte insists the deaths have occurred as police acted in self-defense against suspected drug offenders.

The ICC announced last month it was launching a study of the killings, which Philippine police put at 4,000 but rights groups say is actually triple that number.

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.

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