President Duterte yesterday urged other signatory nations to abandon the International Criminal Court (ICC) days after withdrawing the Philippines from the Rome Statute, which was the agreement that created the international tribunal which is examining his deadly drug war.
Duterte lashed out at the ICC after the government notified the United Nations (UN) of his decision.
“I withdrew from the ICC simply to announce to the world and I will convince everybody now under the treaty, get out! They are very disrespectful!” Mr. Duterte said in a speech to Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduates.
Mr. Duterte made the remark after noting that the one-year countdown for the termination of the country’s membership does not apply since he maintained the Rome Statute is not enforceable on the country since it did not follow the requirement of a law needing domestic publication to become effective.
“It is not a document that was prepared by anybody, it’s an EU-sponsored,” he added referring to the ICC charter otherwise known as the Rome Statute. “It is really an atonement for (Europe’s) sins,” Mr. Duterte said.
The Hague-based ICC announced last month it was launching a “preliminary examination” of Duterte’s anti-drug crackdown that has prompted international concern.
Duterte, 72, won elections in mid-2016 vowing to launch an unprecedented drug war.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has listed 4,100 drug suspects killed in legitimate police operations while rights groups claim the toll is around three times the numbers given by authorities.
The ICC, which opened in 2002, is the world’s only permanent war crimes court and aims to prosecute the worst abuses when national courts are unable or unwilling.
The Philippines last Thursday told the UN it was withdrawing from the ICC, triggering warnings from a top tribunal official that it would harm global efforts to end impunity for the world’s worst crimes.
ICC President O-Gon Kwon has offered the Philippines a dialog before its Assembly of States Parties to raise its grievances.
Kwon warned that the Philippines decision to pull out from the ICC would have a “negative impact” on punishing crimes.
Mr. Duterte insisted the ICC could not prosecute him since the treaty was not published locally, in violation of domestic laws. “That treaty, if you read it, it’s all bull,” Duterte said.
He added that the ICC was part of efforts of “white idiots in the EU” to “atone” for wrongdoings in Africa and the Middle East.
“These people when they went to Africa, they killed the Arabs…. it is really an atonement for their sins. And then they run after either the blacks, when there are so many problems but they still meddle,” he said.
Should the Philippines fully withdraw from the court it would follow the African nation of Burundi, which in October 2017 became the first country to leave.
Decision carefully made
Speaking publicly for the first time about the country’s pulling out of the ICC charter, Mr. Duterte said his decision has long been contemplated.
The Rome Statute inked in 1998 stated the ICC can only investigate and prosecute the four core international crimes in situations where states are “unable” or “unwilling” to do so themselves.
“It is clearly a criminal law,” he said.
“If you read it there is the commissioning of ICC, the judges, then there is the ICC prosecutors; and the definition of the crimes and the penalty attached to the crimes,” he elaborated.
However, Mr. Duterte pointed out technicalities as to why the ICC’s charter cannot govern the Philippines in anyway because it was made to appear to have been recognized without publication in major newspapers and in the government’s Official Gazette.
“Now our rule in this jurisdiction is to have it published to spare the public from ignorance. Because if it is not published, you cannot tell me now that ignorance of the law excuses no one. It has to be published in the Official Gazette. That is the publication of the government,” the President said.
“You know, if it is not published, there is no law. So there is no reason to withdraw something which is not existing,” he added.
“The rule in a democracy is ignorance of the law excuses no one,” he added. Mr. Duterte said the requirement for the publication of the law serves to address the dictum.
Usual critics assail terror list
At least 25 human rights groups and non-government organizations worldwide have condemned the Duterte administration filing a proscription petition against 648 Filipinos that Malacanang wants the courts to declare as “terrorists.
The suit, filed under the provisions of the much-maligned Human Security Act of 2007 enacted during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, would label the 648 individuals as leaders, members and supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), which President Duterte proclaimed to be “terrorist” organizations.
Aside from the statements of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and two UN special rapporteurs condemning the inclusion of the names of UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and of human rights defenders in the Department of Justice (DoJ) petition, statements of support and solidarity poured in 25 UN bodies and international human rights organizations decrying the Duterte administration’s fake terrorist list.
Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment Fund said: “These charges must be dropped immediately, and support provided for the legitimate activities of these individuals who have UN mandates, and the civil society organizations with which they work… It is deeply concerning that authorities have routinely responded to the expressions of environmental and human rights defenders by criminalizing and delegitimizing their voices.”
His full statement can be accessed through:https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/statement/statement-response-allegations-terrorism-against-un-special-rapporteurs
The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues also decried the charges against indigenous human rights defenders as “unsubstantiated” and called on the Philippine government to uphold its obligations under international human rights instruments, including the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
Its full statement here: https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2018/03/2018.03.13-UNPFII-statement-Philippines-HRDs.pdf
International human rights organizations and people’s organizations from various countries have also expressed support for the activists and human rights defenders in the said fake terror list.
The Women’s Major Group, the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Gabriela-New York and Innabuyog led a protest action at the Philippine Consulate in New York City on March 16, 2018 to express support for women human rights defenders included in the list.
Among the organizations that released statements of support are:
Amnesty International; Civicus World Alliance for Citizen Participation;
Front Line Defenders; Protection International; Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development; Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact; Pesticide Action Network – Asia Pacific; Forum Asia; International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines;
Ibon International; CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness Working Group on Conflict and Fragility; United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (UN-REDD); International Union for Conservation of Nature;
Cultural Survival; Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago –Indonesia; Friends of the Earth International; Bayan-USA; Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples; Federation for Indigenous Peoples Self-Determination (FAPI); Slow Food; Land is Life; People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty of Latin America; Association Pour L’integration et le development durable au Burundi; Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People; Association for Taiwan Indigenous Peoples’ Policies, and; Center for the Autonomy and Development of Indigenous Peoples–Nicaragua.
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