An up-close look into International Criminal Court

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2016 09:36 PM

ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs is the only Filipino news outfit to participate in the Assembly of State Parties and a conference with the officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the UN International Court of Justice. Photo by Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs is in The Hague as the only Filipino news organization among 23 selected around the world given the chance to participate in the Assembly of State Parties and a rare conference with the officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the UN International Court of Justice.

The ICC has jurisdiction over 124 countries and can prosecute individuals, not countries, that may have committed crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes. Enforced through the Rome Statute in 2002, the Philippines was one of its first signatories in Asia.

ABS-CBN News was joined by top international, political, and investigative journalists from other countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It allowed selected journalists to get an inside perspective and deeper understanding on the workings and dynamics of two distinct and highest courts in the world, the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice.

ABS-CBN, together with select journalists, were given access inside the premises of these High Courts, witness an actual trial proceedings, and a private conference with the Judges, Prosecutors and Public Affairs Unit.

Initiated by the Hague Project Peace Justice, together with the International Justice Tribune, the international journalists also had a conference with leading international human rights organizations, international law and criminal court experts, and peace advocates.

The ICC has been criticized in the past months due to perceptions that the court has been targeting African states. Most of the court trials and convictions in the past 14 years involved individuals who were prosecuted for crimes committed in the African continent.

And recently, three African states, namely, South Africa, Gambia, and Burundi, have withdrawn their participation from the ICC. Russia also followed by unsigning in the treaty, but they are not officially a member of the ICC since they have not ratified the Rome Statute.

The Philippines was also a subject during the conference due to pronouncements made by President Rodrigo Duterte, simultaneous with the start of the Assembly of State Parties in Hague, that he might follow Russia and withdraw the country's participation with the criminal court.