Duterte moves to withdraw Philippines from International Criminal Court

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that the country will withdraw from the International Criminal Court "effective immediately", just weeks after the tribunal announced its investigation on possible crimes against humanity over his deadly war on drugs.

Chafing at the "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person", Mr Duterte said in a statement that he was serving notice that the Philippines was withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute.

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

"You can not acquire jurisdiction over me, not in a million years", Duterte said last week.

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 that number.

About 4,000 mostly urban poor Filipinos have been killed by police in the past 19 months in a brutal crackdown that has alarmed the worldwide community.

Duterte, however, argued that there was "fraud" committed in the process of making the Philippines sign the agreement, thus Manila has the right to withdraw "effective immediately".

He added: "I therefore declare..."

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Rights advocates and attorneys said quitting the court would not eliminate the possibility of a case before it.

However, the country has yet to file a formal notice to withdraw from the global tribunal. He has refused to accept some police may be systematically executing suspected dealers, as activists say.

Police have denied the charges, insisting they only shot armed suspects in self-defense during legitimate anti-drug raids. "They feel that this will proceed to an investigation", Sabio told Reuters, adding the withdrawal "will have no binding legal effect".

Last month, he indicated he would cooperate with the ICC examination and even said he would prefer a firing squad to prison.

The ICC can only intervene when a member state is unable or unwilling to carry out investigations and prosecute suspected perpetrators.

The ICC's examination seeks to establish whether crimes have taken place, and such a process typically takes years. 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.

Harry Roque, Duterte's spokesman, said the firebrand leader has instructed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to notify the ICC of the Philippines' withdrawal. The president renewed his verbal attacks against United Nations human rights officials who have expressed alarm over the massive killings.

"President Duterte's withdrawal from the Rome Statute is meant to escape accountability by present and even future officials for crimes committed against the people and humanity". Rodrigo Duterte's violent crackdown on drug dealers and drug users by his government's forces has left thousands dead.

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