Int’l Criminal Court to Duterte: PH still obliged to cooperate upon withdrawal

Lian Buan

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Int’l Criminal Court to Duterte: PH still obliged to cooperate upon withdrawal
‘The Court encourages the Philippines to not follow through with the reported intention to withdraw,’ says the International Criminal Court

MANILA, Philippines – The International Criminal Court (ICC) reminded President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, March 16, that withdrawal from the court will not change the Philippines’ obligations to cooperate in a proceeding which had already begun.

“(It does not) affect the continuing obligation of the State concerned to cooperate with the Court in relation to an investigation initiated before the withdrawal came into effect,” the ICC said in a statement sent to Rappler Friday morning.

The ICC was referring to Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s preliminary examinations into the high killings in the President’s war on drugs.

The ICC stressed that Article 127 of the Rome Statute, which the Philippines is a party to, is clear: withdrawal takes effect only after one year, and that proceedings that started before the effectivity will not be affected.

“The Statute is clear, and Pre-Trial Chamber III has confirmed in the case of Burundi that, even after the withdrawal takes effect, the ICC retains jurisdiction over ICC crimes committed during the period the concerned State was party to the Statute and may exercise this jurisdiction over these crimes even after the withdrawal becomes effective,” the ICC said.

According to the ICC, the UN Secretary-General, the depositary of the Rome Statute, has yet to serve notice that such withdrawal has, in fact, taken place.

In a 15-page position paper, Duterte said the withdrawal rules do not apply to the Philippines because the ratification of the statute was “a fraud.”

“The Philippines, in ratifying the Rome Statute, was made to believe that the principle of complementarity shall be observed; that the principle of due process and the presumption of innocence as mandated by our Constitution and the Rome Statue shall prevail,” Duterte said.

It is a position that has been rebutted by the Center for International Law (CenterLaw), a law firm co-founded by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque said the decision to withdraw saddens him, but he believes the decision is right.

“The Court encourages the Philippines to not follow through with the reported intention to withdraw, as it is an important State Party to the Rome Statute, and as such an integral part of the international criminal justice system aimed at ending impunity for and helping prevent the gravest crimes under international law,” the ICC said.

The ICC called on the Philippines to honor its commitment to address atrocities and deliver justice.

“Any act that may set back the global movement towards greater accountability for atrocity crimes and the international rule of law is, therefore, regrettable,” the ICC said. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.