Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday announced that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of a treaty that created the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he is facing a possible complaint over thousands of suspects killed in his crackdown on drugs.
Critics expressed shock at Duterte’s decision, saying he was trying to escape accountability and fearing it could foster an even worse human rights situation in the country.
An ICC prosecutor last month announced that she was opening a preliminary examination into possible crimes against humanity over alleged extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s drug crackdown, angering the Philippine president.
Duterte yesterday said that the court cannot have jurisdiction over him because the Philippine Senate’s ratification in 2011 of the Rome Statute that established the court was never publicized as required by law.
He called the failure to make the ratification public a “glaring and fatal error.”
Thousands of mostly poor drug suspects have been killed in Duterte’s drug crackdown.
Duterte said the killings do not amount to crimes against humanity, genocide or similar atrocities.
“The so-called war against drugs is lawfully directed against drug lords and pushers who have for many years destroyed the present generation, especially the youth,” he said in a 15-page statement.
“The deaths occurring in the process of legitimate police operation lacked the intent to kill,” he said. “The self-defense employed by the police officers when their lives became endangered by the violent resistance of the suspects is a justifying circumstance under our criminal law, hence, they do not incur criminal liability.”
Duterte also invoked presidential immunity from lawsuits, which he said prevents the ICC from investigating him while he is in office.
Renewing his verbal attacks against UN human rights officials who have expressed alarm over the massive killings, he said that the UN expert on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, had without any proof “pictured me as a ruthless violator of human rights” who was directly responsible for extrajudicial killings.
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