Philippines May Quit The ICC

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Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte (Wikimedia Commons)

The Philippines might follow Russia in withdrawing from the ICC, said its president Rodrigo Duterte, on Tuesday.

He described the International Criminal Court as “useless”, and expressed his frustration at the criticism he received from Western governments about his war on narcotic drugs. This followed a comment from an ICC prosecutor, who had said last month that the tribunal may have the jurisdiction to prosecute those involved in the widespread killings that have resulted from the president’s crackdown. Philippines joined the ICC in 2011.

“They are useless, those in the international criminal [court]. They [Russia] withdrew. I might follow. Why? Only the small ones like us are battered,” said Duterte ahead of leaving for Lima to attend an Asia-Pacific summit. He plans on meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin at the summit to pursue a new foreign policy that is designed to reduce the dependency of Philippines on ally USA.

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On Wednesday, Putin signed an order withdrawing the Russian signature from the Hague-based ICC’s founding treaty. Duterte speculated on this withdrawal, saying, “What could be the reason? I really would not know. Maybe to protect what they are doing in Syria, the incessant bombing and the killing of civilians,” reported Reuters.

Several human rights activists and US officials have accused Russia of bombing civilians in Syria. These allegations have been denied by the Russian government.

Duterte has frequently praised China and Russia. He is reported to have said, “You know, if China and Russia would decide to create a new order, I will be the first to join.”

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The Filipino president has also criticised the United Nations for failing to prevent conflict and wars around the world.

Rodrigo Duterte assumed office earlier this year, in May. Since then, he has become known for his outspoken remarks and his strict stance against drugs.

The withdrawal of countries from the ICC, including Russia, and possibly the Philippines has been attributed by some to the election of Donald Trump. “The ICC is holding an event now in the Hague, there have been three African withdrawals and on the heels of that we have the election of a US President who is not going to be supportive,” said Dr. Leslie Vinjamuri as reported by The Independent. She is the director of the Centre on Conflict, Rights and Justice at SOAS, University of London.