MANILA – The Philippines’ government threatened on Tuesday to pull out of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the latter conducted an investigation into the Asian country’s war against drugs that has left thousands of people dead.
During a press conference, presidential spokesman Harry Roque previewed elements of a speech he is due to deliver at the ICC headquarters in New York on Wednesday.
“My statement is we agreed to be a member of the ICC because of the principle of complementarity that the court will only exercise jurisdiction if our courts are unwilling or unable to exercise jurisdiction on any crime cognizable by the International Criminal Court,” Roque said.
“And to violate the principle of complementarity would be to violate the very basis of our consent to be bound by the Rome Statute. And if this will happen, then there may be a possibility that the Philippines ( – ) may withdraw from the Rome Statute of the ICC,” he added.
In April, a Filipino lawyer filed a lawsuit against President Rodrigo Duterte before the ICC, charging him with mass murder during the anti-drugs crackdown that began after he took office on June 30, 2016.
The lawyer asked the criminal court to sentence Duterte and 11 other officials, including the Secretary of Justice Vitaliano Aguirre II and Director General of the Philippine National Police, Ronald dela Rosa, to life in prison.
More than 7,000 people have been killed in Duterte’s war on drugs, at least half of whom died during police operations against suspected drug users and dealers.