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Philippines obliged to cooperate with ICC despite withdrawal —Supreme Court

The Philippines has the obligation to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite its withdrawal from the Rome Statute, according to the Supreme Court (SC).

In its decision junking the petitions challenging the withdrawal, the SC cited the Rome Statute’s provision that the exit does not affect criminal proceedings pertaining to acts that occurred when a country was still a state party.

The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC.

“Even if it has deposited the instrument of withdrawal, it shall not be discharged from any criminal proceedings. Whatever process was already initiated before the International Criminal Court obliges the state party to cooperate,” the SC said in a ruling dated March 16.

“Consequently, liability for the alleged summary killings and other atrocities committed in the course of the war on drugs is not nullified or negated here. The Philippines remained covered and bound by the Rome Statute until March 17, 2019,” the SC said.

In her request for a formal inquiry, former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the Court retains jurisdiction over alleged crimes against humanity that have occurred on Philippine territory during the period when it was a state party from November 1, 2011 to March 16, 2019.

The prosecutor’s request is currently pending before the Pre-Trial Chamber, which is composed of three ICC judges.

Malacañang has repeatedly said President Rodrigo Duterte and the government will not cooperate in any ICC investigation, claiming lack of jurisdiction. The Palace also said the request for an investigation was “legally erroneous and politically motivated.”

The petitions against the ICC withdrawal were dismissed on the ground of mootness. 

“Here, the withdrawal has been communicated and accepted, and there are no means to retract it,” the SC said. — BM, GMA News