Duterte withdrawing Philippines from International Criminal Court

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Wednesday that he will withdraw his country immediately from the International Criminal Court, in the latest clash with global institutions probing his deadly war on drugs. He also criticized ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who announced last month that she is opening a preliminary examination into the killings.

"You can not acquire jurisdiction over me, not in a million years", Duterte said last week.

Officially quitting the court requires a year's notice and experts say pulling out does not preclude an investigation of the deaths, which have drawn worldwide concern.

"It is apparent that the ICC is being utilised as a political tool against the Philippines", said Mr Duterte.

In response, a majority of the Philippine senators signed a resolution declaring that termination or withdrawal from the global agreement is only "valid and effective" with their consent.

Founded in 2002, the court can prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes when national courts are unable or unwilling.

The Philippines, under previous President Benigno Aquino, ratified in 2011 the Rome Statute which underpins the ICC.

Villarin also said that as a signatory to the Rome Statute and other treaty obligations, the decision of the President will be tantamount to reneging all other global commitments and obligations that would have unprecedented repercussions to the country's worldwide standing as a sovereign state.

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The country's withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court, should take effect one year after written notification of the withdrawal is received by the UN Secretary-General.

By withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the ICC, the president is following in the footsteps of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and also The Gambia, which cited racism against "people of colour, especially Africans" as a reason for leaving.

Duterte, however, argued that there was "fraud" committed in the process of making the Philippines sign the agreement, thus Manila has the right to withdraw "effective immediately".

He attacked the ICC's preliminary examination into his anti-narcotics campaign saying it was "unduly and maliciously created" and condemned the "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks his person as well my administration". The deaths occurring in the process of legitimate police operations lacked the intent to kill, ' he added.

In February, the ICC announced that it has taken the first step to probe Duterte over possible crimes against humanity in relation to his ongoing drug war, which has left as many as 20,000 people dead.

But Duterte said the treaty "is not effective nor enforceable in the Philippines".

Mr Duterte also blasted United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard and United Nations rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein for their "bias".

But Roque has also said the ICC has no jurisdiction over the case because the tribunal was intended as a "court of last resort" and the Philippine courts were fully functioning.