Will Duterte do a Putin and pull out of ICC?
Incensed at foreign criticism of his brutal war on drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday threatened to follow in Russia’s footsteps and pull the Philippines out of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the UN-backed tribunal that handles cases involving war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
Like Russia, the Philippines has drawn ICC warning because of extrajudicial killings in Mr. Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.
On Monday, the ICC angered Moscow by referring to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2015 as an armed conflict.
The court is also examining allegations of war crimes committed by Russian and Georgian forces during a brief war in 2008.
Russia is also under pressure for its bombing of opposition forces fighting President Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war.
An angry Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday to withdraw Russia from the ICC.
The Russian foreign ministry explained that the court “failed to match the hopes one had and did not become a truly independent and respected body of international justice.”
Speaking in his hometown, Davao City, shortly before flying to Peru for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, Mr. Duterte said: “They (the Russians) may have thought the International Criminal Court is useless, so they withdrew their membership. I might follow. Why? Because these shameless bullies only pick on small countries like us.”
Mr. Duterte’s comments came just two days after he told reporters that he was excited to meet Putin, who he said was into guns and hunting like him.
Last month, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, warned that Philippine officials could be prosecuted for extrajudicial killings in the country’s fight against illegal drugs.
More than 4,000 people have been killed since Mr. Duterte took office on June 30. About 1,800 were shot dead by police and about 2,600 others were murdered by unidentified attackers, according to police statistics.
The killings have drawn criticism from the Philippines’ key defense ally, the United States, as well as the United Nations and European Union.
Lecture on human rights
On Thursday, ahead of his departure for Peru, Mr. Duterte warned his international counterparts, including US President Barack Obama, not to lecture him on human rights.
“They will hear a mouthful from me. And I will lecture them on the finer points of civilization,” he said.
Mr. Duterte said the ICC had failed to act on bombings that were killing thousands of women and children in Aleppo, Syria, and in Mosul, Iraq.
Interestingly, most of the atrocities in Aleppo are being blamed on Russia, which is running a campaign of air strikes in Syria to keep Assad in power.
Russia in 2000 signed the Rome Statute that created the ICC, but Moscow never ratified it. —With reports from the wires
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