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AI on govt withdrawal from Rome Statute: Not so fast

By CONG B. CORRALES
Associate Editor .

NOBEL Peace Prize laureate Amnesty International yesterday questioned the validity of President Duterte’s recent declaration to withdraw from the Rome Statute, saying he cannot do that without the Senate’s green light because it is an international treaty.

Amnesty International-Philippines told a news conference here that the reasons Duterte stated for the withdrawal were unacceptable.

“We are dismayed and frustrated at the announcement of the withdrawal,” said Jose Noel Olano, AI-Philippines section director told reporters here.

He said the withdrawal comes at a time when in their review of the human rights, Duterte has been identified as among the worst leaders in the world.

Olano said Duterte’s hasty withdrawal from the Rome Statute would likely be seen as an “admission of guilt” in the public perception.

The Rome Statute is an international treaty that governs the International Criminal Court. The Duterte administration’s bloody campaign against drugs is currently being examined by the ICC after lawyer Jude Sabio filed a complaint before the international tribunal.

“Tinanggal na niya (Duterte) ang venue where he can clear his name,” he said.

But assuming that the Philippine government withdraws from the Rome Statute, it would still take a year for it to be binding.

Olano cited the experience of Burundi, a country in South Africa, where the state leader was still investigated despite its withdrawal from the ICC.

He said AI has already submitted a report on the extrajudicial killings in the country under the pretext of a “war on drugs.”

“Amnesty has an office in The Hague which consults with the ICC,” he said.

Olano said the AI report would be among the documents that the ICC would consider in its examination.

In its annual report, Olano pointed out that in Southeast Asia, Myanmar and the Philippines stand out as countries with the most human rights violations.

Olano cited an accomplishment report of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, under the section fight against drugs, that enumerated some 3,967 people killed in drug operations and 16,355 homicide cases under investigation from July 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017.

“The deliberate, unlawful, and widespread killings of thousands of alleged drug offenders appeared to be systematic, planned, organized, and encouraged by the authorities, and may have constituted crimes against humanity. Most of those killed were from poor urban communities,” Olano said.

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