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Statement on President Duterte’s orders to withdraw from the International Criminal Court

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

On March 14 President Duterte announced the ‘immediate’ withdrawal of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court, after claiming it had no jurisdiction over him, instructing the police not to cooperate with any international investigation into extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs all the while threatening UN rights investigators with the possibility of being fed to crocodiles. Duterte also cited a fraudulent process when the Philippines ratified it on August 23, 2011.

These actions portray a tyrant who is afraid to stand up to international scrutiny as he knows there is no way to justify the mass killings before international law. Duterte is panicking over a judicial process where he has no control. Unfortunately he has also wasted the final opportunity to prove the merits of his violent campaign against illegal drugs. If the war on drugs benefits the country surely he can defend it? But like all despots prosecuted before him at the ICC, he hides behind a flimsy defense of national sovereignty.

The ICC was created in such a way so that amnesties and immunities do not apply to international criminals. While Duterte may still be investigated despite the country’s withdrawal from the ICC, this action may bring more harm to overseas Filipinos who could become victims of international crimes in countries where they live and work, Filipino seamen are vulnerable to sea pirates, Filipinos in the Middle East and other war-torn regions are vulnerable to war crimes, Filipinas are vulnerable to sexual violence in conflict zones. Duterte has waived his responsibility towards them in order to save his own skin.

There are more than 20,000 victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. There are thousands of suffering families crying out for justice. They are the focus of the ICC investigation, and possible future litigation. They are our true cause.

In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement stands strongly by the side of justice and accountability and will fully engage the ICC process beyond the country’s withdrawal. We will support the possible engagement of the EJK victims’ families with the ICC. We reiterate the call for government to end its war on the poor and push for a rights-based governance over the issue of illegal drugs.

Rosemarie Trajano
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement
14 March 2018