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Philippines: Duterte’s ‘cowardly’ ICC withdrawal too late to evade justice

Responding to news that the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte has said that the country will withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) today, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia Director, said:

“This is a misguided and deeply regrettable move by President Duterte, and the latest signal that powerful individuals in the Philippines are more interested in covering up their own potential accountability for killings than they are in ensuring justice for the many victims of the country’s brutal ‘war on drugs’.

“Fortunately for those victims, Duterte’s announced withdrawal comes too late to stop the ICC’s preliminary examination and the Philippines’ obligations towards the court.

“Duterte cannot stop international accountability in the Philippines simply by deleting his signature from the Rome Statute.

“If the Philippines truly believed that the ICC did not have jurisdiction over crimes committed in the country, they should challenge that in the proper way – which is at the ICC. Instead, they have taken the cowardly option of trying to evade justice.”

Amnesty has documented how Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people in the Philippines. In its January 2017 report ‘If you are poor you are killed’, Amnesty detailed how the Philippines police have killed, and paid others to kill, thousands of alleged drug offenders in a wave of extrajudicial executions that may amount to crimes against humanity.

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