The confrontation between Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has escalated after the defiant leader moved to withdraw Manila from the Rome Statute.
“I therefore declare and forthwith give notice… that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute, effective immediately,” he said in a statement released to media on Wednesday.
The country’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court, should take effect one year after written notification of the withdrawal is received by the UN Secretary-General. However, the 72-year-old said that he is not planning to wait, and that the withdrawal would take place immediately.
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.
Duterte has been threatening to pull out of the Hague-based international tribunal since the start of his presidential term in mid-2016. On several occasions, he called the international body “useless” following ICC calls for probes into Duterte’s notorious ‘war on drugs.’
Despite numerous complaints and threats of an investigation, the Philippines leader continued his campaign, saying back in February that the campaign wouldn’t stop until his last day in office. “If I go to prison, I go to prison. If you want to execute me, look for a country that allows prisoners to be executed by firing squad. I’ll be there,” he apparently said to the ICC.
Duterte was responding to a preliminary investigation into “crimes allegedly committed in this state party” launched by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. “Specifically, it has been alleged that since July 1, 2016, thousands of persons have been killed for reasons related to their alleged involvement in illegal drug use or dealing,” the prosecutor said at that time.
“The court alleges the killings have taken place outside of the law during police led anti-drug operations.” The preliminary investigation is still ongoing as of Wednesday, according to the ICC page on Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ campaign.
In his latest move, the outspoken leader refused to recognize the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over his persona in its preliminary probe of the tactics and alleged abuses in the nation’s war on drugs. “You cannot acquire jurisdiction over me, not in a million years,” Duterte said last week.
According to Philippines authorities, almost 4,000 people were killed in anti-drug raids since mid-2016. However, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) estimate that up to 12,000 people could have fallen victim to the notorious campaign.
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