Palace barring participation to the ICC curtails rights, sets a dangerous precedent
Responding to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s announcement that Filipinos may be barred from participating in ICC, Section Director Butch Olano said:
“The International Criminal Court was created to ensure that people within its jurisdiction who are victims of crimes under the Rome Statute, failed by their national justice systems to get remedy, have an additional avenue to safely seek justice and reparation. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s statement that ‘Filipinos will be barred from leaving the country to participate in any formal investigation that might be conducted by the ICC’ is an admission that President Duterte’s administration does not respect its obligation to provide its citizens a variety of measures and venues to obtain justice in a systematic and thorough way both at the national and international levels. The announcement of a blanket policy that curtails the peoples’ guaranteed civil liberties such as the right to freedom of association or movement is an affront to victims of human rights violations seeking redress,
“Amnesty International Philippines is seeing red flags. Panelo’s words must not be taken lightly as it sets a very dangerous precedent. It should be regarded as a threat to human rights defenders and the shrinking civic space in the Philippines, with the aim to restrict or impede human rights activities, including cooperation with international and regional human rights mechanisms. It further validates that human rights work is indeed not welcomed in the Philippines,
“Protecting a country’s sovereignty is an old tune the Duterte administration has been playing to make it appear that international human rights mechanisms are encroaching on his governing authority. The spiraling human rights crisis in the Philippines brought about by the President’s war on drugs has only resulted to more miscalculated steps taken one after the other to cover his failure in addressing a problem that he vowed to end.”
On 17 March 2019, the Philippines bid to leave the International Criminal Court took effect. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, announced following the withdrawal that her office’s preliminary examination into the situation in the Philippines will continue.
In January 2017, and again in December 2017, Amnesty International recommended that unless Philippine authorities took key steps to end drug-related killings the ICC should open a preliminary examination into the crimes. Amnesty also urged States at the UN Human Rights Council to launch an independent investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines, including the thousands of extrajudicial killings still being committed.