PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte has suggested walking in Russia’s footsteps by staging a pullout from the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying the tribunal has not done enough to help smaller nations like his that are wracked by injustices.
The Filipino leader known for making controversial remarks against international groupings like the United Nations and the European Union also cited criticism from Western nations against the thousands of drug-related killings in the Philippines that have occurred under his watch.
According to Reuters, Duterte called the ICC “useless”, expressed frustration that Western powers seemed unable to understand his crackdown on the narcotics trade and also appeared to blame the UN for failing to prevent wars around the world.
“They are useless, those in the international criminal (court). They (Russia) withdrew. I might follow.
“Why? Only the small ones like us are battered,” he was quoted saying.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order Wednesday to remove his country’s signature from the founding treaty of the ICC.
The leader reportedly did so after the Hague-based tribunal published a report classifying Russian annexation of Crimea as an occupation. Putin accused the court of being “one-sided and inefficient”, Rappler reported, also saying it has failed to live up to the hopes of the international community.
Echoing his Russian ally’s remark, Duterte was quoted as saying in Rappler: “We small countries get beaten up by the fools. All the killings, it’s by the thousands, bombing children, women.”
He also cited the example of Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq where he said human rights abuses have continued unabated despite the existence of the ICC.
Duterte’s war on drugs in the Philippines has also come under the ICC’s radar. Last month, the court issued a stern reminder to the Philippine government, saying the thousands of drug-related murders in the crackdown may fall under its jurisdiction.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda pointed out that the Philippines is a state party to the ICC and therefore, the court has jurisdiction over “genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes” committed in the country.
Bensouda said his office is aware of reports of the widespread drug-related deaths in the country – an estimated 4,000 since Duterte took office in June – and will continue to closely monitor developments.
The court also noted that this has been the case since November 1, 2011, when the statute entered into force in the Philippines. Since then, however, there has been no reports of any case against Duterte in the court.
Duterte has in the past threatened to withdraw his country from the UN, following criticism from the grouping over the drug murders. He later said, however, that the suggestion was only a joke