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Duterte: Philippines May Follow Russia Out of ICC

  • VOA News

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech during the 80th National Bureau of Investigation anniversary, Nov. 14, 2016. On Thursday Duterte said he might withdraw from the International Criminal Court.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech during the 80th National Bureau of Investigation anniversary, Nov. 14, 2016. On Thursday Duterte said he might withdraw from the International Criminal Court.

After Russia’s decision to leave the International Criminal Court, a Philippines withdrawal might follow.

President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to leave the ICC a day after Russia's President Vladimir Putin signed a decree removing his country from the first legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Duterte spoke Thursday from his home town of Davao city in the southern Philippines before living for a summit in Peru.

“They (Russians) may have thought the International Criminal Court is [useless], so they withdrew their membership.... I might follow. Why? Because these shameless bullies only picked on small countries like us,” Duterte said.

But Duterte’s critics say he is afraid he could be charged over the thousands of people killed in his war on drugs.

Philippines police and vigilantes have reportedly killed at least 3,600 people for drug use and drug sales since Duterte took office at the end of June.

Duterte's promise to aggressively target drug dealers and criminals has gained large support, but his approach has drawn criticism from the United Nations and the United States.

FILE - Rounded up residents, mostly males, wait to be transported to a police station in President Rodrigo Duterte's "War on Drugs" campaign, in the slum community of Tondo, in Manila, Philippines, Sept. 30, 2016. More than 3,600 drug users and dealers reportedly have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office. His critics say concerns over being held accountable for the deaths are pushing Duterte to withdraw from the ICC.

FILE - Rounded up residents, mostly males, wait to be transported to a police station in President Rodrigo Duterte's "War on Drugs" campaign, in the slum community of Tondo, in Manila, Philippines, Sept. 30, 2016. More than 3,600 drug users and dealers reportedly have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office. His critics say concerns over being held accountable for the deaths are pushing Duterte to withdraw from the ICC.

ICC prosecutor ‘deeply concerned’

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has said in the past the ICC may have the jurisdiction to prosecute perpetrators of thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines' crack down on drugs.

Bensouda said she was “deeply concerned” and “the fact that public statements of high officials of the republic of the Philippines seem to condone such killings.”

In response, Duterte threatened to ban ICC officials from investigating any allegations and said his government did nothing wrong.

The ICC began functioning in July 2002, and the Philippines is among its 124 member states. The United States is not a member.

Thursday, Duterte also repeated a threat to leave the United Nations and also speculated about a potential alliance with China and Russia in case both nations decided to form a new order.

“You know, if China and Russia would decide to create a new order, I will be the first to join,” he added.

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