The Philippines’ Suspicious ICC Withdrawal
President Rodrigo Duterte has declared his intent to withdraw the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC), subsequent to his accused partaking in a controversial era of violence, drug scandals, and hushed corruption by the international community.
“There appears to be a concerted effort on the part of the UN special rapporteurs to paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extrajudicial killings,” stated Mr. Duterte.
He continued, exclaiming the ICC “effectively created the impression that [he is] to be charged [...] for serious crimes falling under its jurisdiction.”
Despite having openly challenged the ICC’s investigation of his human rights violation and further aided it to prove his claimed innocence, President Duterte announced the country’s withdrawal to the UN on Wednesday.
Perceived as cowardly by many, including Amnesty International, Duterte’s withdrawal was presumably made in hopes of escaping the preliminary examination held on the basis of accusations of crimes against humanity during the deadly drug war.
Regardless, the President has insistently emphasized his aim to continue abiding to the law.
Duterte has repeatedly denied his orders to kill drug suspects - the Philippine police force claims that all the 4,100 people killed were either armed or resisted arrest.
Further complicating the matter, Duterte has allegedly declared that he would persecute his own son if proven guilty, whose involvement in drug trafficking is currently under investigation.
However, after the drug trafficking allegations connected the smuggling of $130m worth of methamphetamine from China to his son Paolo Duterte, Duterte accused the United Nations of “outrageous” accusations, referring to them as “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks”.
Moreover, Mr. Duterte had previously listed UN rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz in a list of 600 names to be classified as terrorists, after Tauli-Corpuz challenged his use of power supposedly in breach of human rights. Consequently, the UN declared Duterte “mentally unstable” and in need of a psychiatric examination.
In response to the unfounded accusations, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein declared:
“He (Duterte) needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric examination. This kind of comment is unacceptable. These attacks cannot go unanswered; the UN human rights council must take a position.”
The ICC is reportedly still in the process of establishing the legitimacy of the crimes in question, a phase which typically requires several years.
The Philippine police authorities deny allegations of the killing of 4,100 drug dealers, in addition to rejecting all ties to 2,300 related unsolved deaths.
Curiously enough, the President has assertively declared his intention to fully cooperate with the ICC only last month, to the extent that he would rather prefer a firing squad to prison.
Whilst Mr. Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, assured the withdrawal from ICC was not a move out of fear, but out of objections to the ICC becoming “a political tool to harass a particular country, like ours”, Duterte’s critiques commented otherwise.
Critic Senator Risa Hontiveros, for instance, claimed Duterte “may have unwittingly displayed his fear of being proven guilty.”