Duterte withdraws from worldwide rights treaty following criticism of war on drugs

A Philippine policeman keeps watch from a rooftop during a drug raid on Maharlika Village TaguigMore

Police say they have killed almost 4,000 drug suspects as part of the campaign, while rights groups claim the toll is around three times the numbers given by authorities.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told CNN Philippines that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines because the country's ratification to the Rome Statute was not published on the Official Gazette.

Roque was a former co-chairperson of the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court, which lobbied for the Philippines to ratify the Rome Statute and become an ICC member.

The ICC announced on February 9 a preliminary examination into allegations Philippine police have killed thousands of alleged users or dealers as part of Duterte's anti-drug war that he launched after taking office in mid-2016.

"I therefore declare and forthwith give notice, as President of the Republic of the Philippines, that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately" he said.

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, which was opened in 2002.

"I imagine this will be an global embarrassment for the Philippines", said Hilbay, remarking that the country had once been seen as a regional leader in human rights.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces the disbandment of police operations against illegal drugs at the Malacanang palace in Manila on January 30, 2017.

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Duterte said the global court has been used as a "political tool against the Philippines" over its attempts to put him under its jurisdiction amid an inquiry into his war on illegal drugs.

Iceland Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson also called on the Philippines to accept the visit of a UN Special Rapporteur.

"If the Philippines truly believed that the ICC did not have jurisdiction over crimes committed in the country, they should challenge that in the proper way - which is at the ICC".

His officials have also said Manila can cite a provision that the ICC cannot assume jurisdiction over a country whose legal system is still functioning.

Mr Duterte also blasted United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard and United Nations rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein for their "bias".

The news came as Duterte ordered a review of a decision by a prosecutor to dismiss complaints against several suspected drugs kingpins, amid outrage among the public and some of his allies. A self-confessed drug dealer was among those cleared. Sabio is the lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, who said he killed people in Davao City upon the orders of then then-Mayor Duterte.

Duterte has been threatening to pull out of the Hague-based worldwide tribunal since the start of his presidential term in mid-2016.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents and police secure a part of a street as they search a house during a drug raid in Maharlika Village, Taguig, south of Manila on February 28.

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