President Rodrigo Duterte
MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte asked governments yesterday to abandon the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying the world tribunal - where he is facing a possible complaint for the killings of thousands of drug suspects under his crackdown - is “rude”.

The Philippine Senate has ratified the Rome Statute that established the ICC, but Duterte said the treaty was never enforced in the country because it was not published in the official government gazette, as required by law.

He said the “flawed” international court can never have jurisdiction over him, “not in a million years”.

Last month, an ICC prosecutor announced she was opening a preliminary examination into a complaint by a Filipino lawyer of suspected extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, which could amount to crimes against humanity. The move angered Duterte, who announced last Wednesday that he was withdrawing the Philippine ratification of the Rome Statute “effective immediately”, citing “a concerted effort” by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and UN human rights officials “to paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights”.

“If it’s not published, there is no law,” Duterte said yesterday at the graduation of cadets at the Philippine Military Academy in northern Baguio city. There was no reason to withdraw from “something which is not existing”, he said, adding that he announced the withdrawal from the ICC treaty to draw the world’s attention to the issue he had with the international court.

“I will convince everybody now under the treaty at the ICC: ‘Get out, get out, it’s rude’.” .

Duterte’s came under fire from human rights groups, who said he was trying to evade accountability by backing out of the ICC. Critics said Duterte can’t withdraw from the court by himself and may need the approval of the Senate, which ratified the Rome Statute in 2011.

Commission on Human Rights chief Chito Gascon said the Philippines has historically been at the forefront of the fight for international justice, but that Duterte’s decision “constitutes a reversal that will be viewed as encouraging impunity to continue”.

More than 4000 drug suspects have been killed under Duterte’s drug crackdown. He argues that the killings do not amount to crimes against humanity, genocide or similar atrocities. - AP