By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
THE INTERNATIONAL Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday vowed to pursue its “preliminary examination” of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s controversial drug war despite the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute.
“My Office’s independent and impartial preliminary examination into the situation in the Philippines continues,” ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement on Tuesday.
She noted that the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC, became effective last Sunday, March 17.
“Pursuant to Article 127.2 of the Statute, and based on prior ICC judicial ruling in the situation in Burundi, the Court retains its jurisdiction over crimes committed during the time in which the State was party to the Statute and may exercise this jurisdiction even after the withdrawal becomes effective,” she added.
The Statute states that a country’s withdrawal “shall not prejudice in any way the continued consideration of any matter which was already under consideration by the Court prior to the date on which the withdrawal became effective.”
For his part, President of the Assembly of States Parties O-Gon Kwon said: “I sincerely hope that the departure of the Philippines from the Rome Statute is only temporary and that it will re-join the Rome Statute family in the future. Encouraging universal adherence to the Rome Statute is key in strengthening our collective efforts to promote accountability for atrocity crimes and the rule of law.”
He also said in his statement that the ICC “relies on the continued support of the international community to ensure its effectiveness in the fight against impunity.”
“The Assembly of States Parties, comprising more than 120 States from all regions of the world, is fully committed to the Court’s mandate: to help put an end to impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,” he noted.
The Assembly of States Parties is the management oversight and legislative body of the ICC. The body is comprised of representatives of all States that have ratified and acceded to the Statute.
Sought for comment at a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said the Philippines, under Mr. Duterte, will not be returning to the ICC.
“Not during the watch of this President,” he said.
“Even other countries, powerful countries share the same sentiment that the ICC has weaponized human rights in the fight against drugs. It has been politically persecuting heads of states,” Mr. Panelo added.