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Duterte quitting International Criminal Court immediately over outrageous attacks

Issued: 2018-03-14

By Afp

Published: 03:12 EDT, 14 March 2018 | Updated: 06:54 EDT, 14 March 2018

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte moved to quit the International Criminal Court on Wednesday after it began investigating his brutal war on drug dealers.

Duterte announced he is withdrawing the Philippines from the Rome Statute which gives the Hague-based ICC the authority to investigate crimes on its soil.

The move comes a month after the ICC announced it was launching a 'preliminary examination' of Duterte's bloody anti-drug crackdown that has seen thousands die in largely extrajudicial killings.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has begun the process of withdrawing his country from the International Criminal Court amid an investigation into his brutal drugs war

'I therefore declare and forthwith give notice... that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately,' Duterte said in a statement.

Police say they have killed nearly 4,000 drug suspects as part of the campaign, while rights groups claim the toll is around three times that number.

Many of the killings have been carried out by vigilante groups after Duterte gave them a free pass to shoot alleged drug dealers.

The outspoken Philippine leader has taken issue over the Philippines becoming the first southeast Asian nation put under a preliminary examination by the ICC.

Opened in 2002, the ICC is the world's only permanent war crimes court and aims to prosecute the worst abuses when national courts are unable or unwilling.

The Philippines, under previous President Benigno Aquino, ratified in 2011 the Rome Statute which underpins the ICC.

On Wednesday Duterte, a former lawyer, attacked the ICC's preliminary examination into his anti-narcotics campaign saying it was 'unduly and maliciously created'.

'It is apparent that the ICC is being utilised as a political tool against the Philippines,' he said.

In his statement, Duterte cited 'baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on his person as well my administration'.

'The acts allegedly committed by me are neither genocide nor war crimes. The deaths occurring in the process of legitimate police operations lacked the intent to kill,' he added.

Police say 4,000 people have been killed since the crackdown started in 2016, but campaigners say the true figure is three times that number

But even as early as October 13, 2016, when Duterte had only been in office less than four months, the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement that she was 'deeply concerned' over reports of extra-judicial killings.

Adding pressure on Manila, in February, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva raised the country's human rights record.

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