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ICC exit removes protection for Filipinos-iDEFEND

Sunday, 17 March 2019

The Philippines’ withdrawal from its membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) means that an important legal mechanism enforcing some of the most advanced international cooperation for justice will be out of reach for Filipinos, especially those working in dangerous and conflict-ridden countries.

Although withdrawing from the ICC will have no effect on the cases of extrajudicial killings brought before it, President Duterte nevertheless sacrificed international legal protection for all Filipinos in a bid to save himself from prosecution. In the event of international terrorist attacks on Philippine soil, in the event of Chinese military aggression, and in the event that overseas Filipinos including peace keepers, are captured or killed in crossfires in conflict zones, the Filipino people would have had the best means to pursue justice.

Ending ICC membership is a huge setback in the country’s justice landscape. However the Senate failed to assert its right to concur in the withdrawal process and the Supreme Court likewise failed to respond to urgent petitions to review the Presidential act. Government has consistently demonstrated its contempt for justice, choosing instead to execute it from the barrel of a gun, through intimidation, coercion, war, divisiveness, and widespread terror among the populace. That path will most certainly lead to conflict and eventual failure of governance.

In any case any future cases can still be submitted to the ICC via UN Security Council referral, a State Party referral, or by the ICC Prosecutor’s own initiative. But Philippines can no longer participate in how the Assembly of States Parties shape the ICC’s work, neither could it nominate a judge.

In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) aims to pursue justice for the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings despite the loss of ICC membership. iDEFEND stands with the global human rights and justice movement in seeking universal jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression, towards ending all authoritarian and despotic rule around the world.