Duterte threatens to arrest ICC members

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Manila, April 13 (IANS) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday threatened to arrest members of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) if they entered the country.

Duterte’s threat comes a month after the Philippines announced its withdrawal from the ICC, reports Efe news.

“But what is your authority now? If we are not members of the treaty, why are you in this country? You cannot exercise any proceedings here without basis,” the head of state said in a televised speech.

In March, Philippines had submitted a written request to withdraw from the ICC, after the latter had initiated a preliminary investigation into alleged extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s controversial anti-drugs campaign, which until now has reportedly killed over 7,000 people.

The probe, initiated in February, was launched to assess if there were sufficient grounds to open an investigation, although the ICC did not announce any prosecutor’s visit to the country as yet.

Under Article 127 of the Rome Statute, a country’s withdrawal from the treaty can only take effect a year after the written notification is received by the UN secretary-general.

Human rights organisations and experts have warned Duterte that withdrawal from the Hague-based ICC will not exempt him from trial for the alleged abuses in his anti-drugs campaign.

In April 2017, a Filipino had filed a lawsuit against Duterte before the ICC, accusing him of mass murder during his 22-year tenure as the mayor of Davao, and also during the anti-drugs crackdown that began after he took office in 2016.

Since then the Philippine government has lashed out against UN rapporteurs on human rights, issuing threats against officials such as Agnes Callamard, who is investigating extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.

–IANS

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