Seeing Philippines' vital role, ICC urges Manila to reconsider decision to leave

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
Seeing Philippines' vital role, ICC urges Manila to reconsider decision to leave
The International Criminal Court at the Hague Netherlands is urging the Philippines to reconsider its decision to leave the Rome Statute.
Facebook / International Criminal Court

MANILA, Philippines — The International Criminal Court on Friday urged the Philippines to reconsider its decision to leave the international treaty that created the tribunal, stressing Manila’s important role in preventing “the gravest crimes” from happening.

The country, the ICC’s public affairs unit says, is also an integral part of the international criminal justice system that aims to end impunity for serious crimes committed under international law.

“The Court encourages the Philippines to not follow through with the reported intention to withdraw, as it is an important State Party to the Rome Statute, and as such an integral part of the international criminal justice system aimed at ending impunity for and helping prevent the gravest crimes under international law,” the Public Affairs Unit of the ICC said in an e-mail to Philstar.com.

The Philippines signed the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, on Dec. 28, 2000. It deposited its instrument of ratification of the Rome Statute on Aug. 30, 2011 and entered into force on Nov. 1, 2011.

The Philippines is one of the 19 Asia-Pacific states that ratified the treaty, according to the ICC.

One of the judges of the ICC is Raul Pangalangan, a former publisher of a national newspaper who will serve on the tribunal from July 13, 2015 to March 10, 2021.

The ICC said that the Philippines was essential for the aspirations toward the universal ratification of the Rome Statute and strengthening of international rule law.

It also reaffirmed the importance of the continued commitment of countries to the international treaty and support to the ICC, adding that participation in the Rome Statute is integral in addressing crimes and delivering justice to victims.

President Rodrigo Duterte this week announced the cancelation of the country's ratification of the Rome Statute. He perceives bias of some players in the international community and United Nations officials against him.

This came more than a month following the initiation of a preliminary examination by an ICC prosecutor of rights violations and killings attending the government's drug war.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said that the last straw for Duterte was the comment by the UN's rights chief that the Philippine leader might be in need of a "psychiatric evaluation."

Roque, one of the campaigners for the country's ratification of the treaty during the previous administration, said that Manila's decision could lead other countries to leave the treaty and or abandon their plan to join the agreement.

Any act that may set back the global movement towards accountability for atrocious crimes and respect for international law is “regrettable,” according to the ICC’s Public Affairs Office, adding that the tribunal has given voice to victims of crimes of use of child soldiers, rape, sexual violence in conflict, torture, willful killing and destruction of cultural property.

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