PH pullout from ICC a 'step back' for human rights: CHR

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2019 08:37 PM | Updated as of Mar 17 2019 10:24 AM

MANILA - The Philippines' withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a backward step for human rights in the country, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Saturday.

In a statement, CHR said the pullout is a "reversal of the country’s commitment to international treaty obligations and a step back from the gains the Philippines has achieved in promoting justice and human rights."

"In the end, it is the Filipino people who [are] bound to lose when they no longer have the recourse in times when local justice systems fail in protecting them," CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.

"It is then impunity that wins as a consequence of withdrawal."

In March 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the country's pullout from the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC, after the tribunal announced it would initiate a preliminary examination of alleged crimes against humanity under his war on drugs.

He is facing a separate complaint before the court over his supposed role in the alleged death squad killings in Davao City, where he ruled as mayor for over 2 decades.

The withdrawal will take effect Sunday.

The CHR urged government to cooperate in the ICC's preliminary examination and reconsider its withdrawal.

"The task before the Philippine government is to show—beyond words—that it is willing to investigate, prosecute, and punish perpetrators of alleged extrajudicial killings linked to the government’s anti-drug war," De Guia said.

Under the Rome Statute, the international body may only investigate alleged crimes if the “State is unwilling or unable to genuinely carry out the investigation or prosecution."

Among the crimes punishable under the ICC are genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression.

The ICC earlier said the Philippines' withdrawal will not affect its preliminary examination, which covers incidents that took place in the Philippines since the start of the drug war on July 1, 2016 until the country remains a state party to the Rome Statute.