Philippines Pullout From ICC Won't Block Justice for 'Drug War'

Rights Group Slams US Threat to Deny Visas to International Criminal Court Staff

The Peace Palace which houses the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Credit Reuters

Manila moved to quit after the body launched a preliminary examination in 2018 into President Rodrigo Duterte's drug crackdown that has killed thousands and drawn global censure.

Pompeo said the restrictions "may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without the allies' consent", he said.

The visa restrictions would apply to any ICC employee who takes or has taken action "to request or further such an investigation" into allegations against US forces and their allies in Afghanistan that include forced disappearances and torture. However, our justice system works, our courts are functioning.

That means that any future global crimes committed in the Philippines will be outside of the court's jurisdiction.

"Human rights and crime-busting - they are not anathema, they are not antagonistic towards each other". "ICC member countries should publicly make clear that they will remain undaunted in their support for the ICC and will not tolerate USA obstruction".

"The ICC is meant to be the court of last resort when there is a failure of national justice. In addition to travel bans, Bolton threatened prosecutions and financial sanctions against ICC staff as well as against countries and companies assisting in ICC investigations of U.S. nationals..." the press release said. "At a time of rampant atrocities in South Sudan, Myanmar and Syria, the USA is sending exactly the wrong message in targeting ICC staff simply for doing their job - bringing justice for victims of global crimes". Afghanistan, however, is an ICC member country, giving the ICC authority to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by their nationals or by anyone on Afghan territory.

When President George W. Bush took office in 2001, his administration promoted and passed the American Service Members Protection Act, which sought to immunize USA troops from potential prosecution by the ICC. However, these efforts did little more than erode United States credibility... The court has not authorised the investigation yet.

Global law expert, Priya Pillai said membership to the ICC is not only important in terms of legal recourse.

Late last week, Mike Pompeo announced that the government would no longer grant visas to the staff of the International Criminal Court investigating alleged atrocities in Afghanistan.

"The Trump administration is trying an end run around accountability", it said.

"The suspension of the withdrawal for a period of 12 to prevent situations just like this where a state is accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and they withdraw to shield themselves from prosecution", Toby Cadman, an global human rights lawyer, told Al Jazeera. "This is precisely the ICC's role, to deliver justice for victims when all other doors are closed".

Adopted and signed by 123 states in 1998 during a diplomatic conference in Rome, the Rome Statute created the ICC and gave it jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The prosecution's request says there is information that members of the USA military and intelligence agencies "committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan and other locations, principally in the 2003-2004 period".

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