Philippines formally informs UN of withdrawal from ICC

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Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the Chef de Cabinet of UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres, reads the note verbale handed by Locsin. (Photo released by Department of Foreign Affairs)
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Screen grab of Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Teodoro Locsin Jr.'s post on Twitter.
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The Philippines' letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres. (DFA photo)
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Screen grab of Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Teodoro Locsin Jr.'s post on Twitter.
Updated 16 March 2018

Philippines formally informs UN of withdrawal from ICC

MANILA: The Philippines on Friday formally informed the UN of its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This comes two days after President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines would withdraw ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, “effective immediately.”
As reasons for the withdrawal, Duterte cited what he said appears to be a “concerted effort” by UN officials to paint him as a “ruthless and heartless violator of human rights who allegedly caused thousands of extra-judicial killings,” and violations of due process by the ICC.
The decision reflects the Philippines’ “principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights,” Manila said.
It assured the international community that it continues to be guided by the rule of law, and affirmed its “commitment to fight against impunity for atrocity crimes, notwithstanding its withdrawal from the Rome Statute.”
The government said it “remains resolute in effecting its principal responsibility to ensure the long-term safety of the nation in order to promote inclusive national development and secure a decent and dignified life for all.”
The countdown for the one-year withdrawal period from the ICC officially started on Thursday.
In explaining Manila’s decision, Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano pointed to a “well-orchestrated campaign” to mislead the international community and “crucify” Duterte by distorting the human rights situation in the country.
“It is doubly lamentable that members of the international community, who include our own partners in the war against terror, have allowed themselves to be used as pawns by these individuals and organizations in undermining our own efforts to restore the rule of law,” Cayetano said in a statement.
He added that “there is no crime or liability to speak of” since the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs is a legitimate law enforcement operation designed to protect all Filipinos and uphold the rule of law.
It has always been the position of the Philippines that states have the inherent responsibility to adopt and implement measures, consistent with their respective laws, to effectively address threats to the safety and wellbeing of their citizens, Cayetano said.
He added that Duterte has identified the proliferation of illegal drugs, and its link to other forms of criminality, as a serious threat that had to be immediately addressed.
“The campaign we are waging against illegal drugs is consistent with the sovereign duty of any State to protect its people,” Cayetano said.
“Contrary to what some parties are trying to make it appear, there is no failure on the part of the Philippine Government in dealing with issues, problems, and concerns arising from this campaign.”
Duterte first threatened to withdraw from the ICC in November 2016, following Moscow’s move to cut ties with the court, which Russian President Vladimir Putin called “ineffective and one-sided.”
But Russia’s action was largely symbolic because like the US, it has not ratified the treaty and so is not under the ICC’s jurisdiction.
Last month, Duterte said he welcomed the ICC’s decision to conduct a preliminary examination on alleged drug killings in the Philippines.
“I hope you come… I welcome you, and if you want to find me guilty, go ahead. So be it,” he said. But on March 6, he said the ICC “cannot acquire jurisdiction over me, not in a million years.”

US regrets Afghan civilian deaths, says answer is peace

Updated 41 min 26 sec ago

US regrets Afghan civilian deaths, says answer is peace

  • International and pro-government forces were responsible for the deaths of 305 civilians in the first three months of the year, UN says

WASHINGTON: The US envoy negotiating with the Taliban voiced regret Thursday over findings that US-backed forces were killing more civilians than the militants, and said the solution was a peace deal.

A UN report released found that international and pro-government forces were responsible for the deaths of 305 civilians in the first three months of the year.

“We deeply regret any loss of innocent life during military operations. We never target innocents,” said Zalmay Khalilzad, the US negotiator who is set shortly to resume talks with the Taliban in Qatar on ending the war.

“War is treacherous, and unintended consequences are devastating. While we strive to prevent casualties, real solution is a cease-fire or reduced violence as we pursue lasting peace,” he tweeted.

Khalilzad appealed to the Taliban and other Afghans to “work to make this the year of peace.”

He struck a different tone than the spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, Col. Dave Butler, who said the US pursued “the highest standards of accuracy and accountability” and that troops “reserve the right of self-defense.”

President Donald Trump is eager to find a negotiated way to pull out troops and end the longest-ever US war.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, with whom the Taliban refuse to negotiate, has called for next week a “loya jirga,” a traditional gathering of all the country’s communities, although it is unclear how broad the attendance will be.

Officials in Kabul said the Taliban ambushed a security convoy in western Afghanistan, killing nine policemen, and in Kabul, a would-be attacker died when a bomb he was trying to plant at a private university detonated prematurely.

According to a councilman in western Farah province, Abdul Samad Salehi, the ambush took place in Anardara district as the convoy was heading to defuse a roadside bomb on Wednesday afternoon.

Shortly after the attack, other Taliban insurgents targeted and briefly overran the district police headquarters, setting off hours-long clashes, Salehi said. Reinforcements arrived later and managed to wrest back control of the headquarters.

In Kabul, a bomb meant to target the private Jahan University blew up apparently prematurely inside a campus bathroom, killing the suspected militant and wounding three students.

Basir Mujahid, spokesman for the Kabul police chief, said the blast took place around 10:30 a.m.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion but the Taliban and Daesh have targeted schools and placed of education in the past.

Also on Thursday, unidentified gunmen wounded a local reporter in eastern Nangarhar province, said Farid Khan, spokesman for the provincial police chief.

Khan said Emran lemar, a reporter for the Mazal radio station, was shot inside a park in the provincial capital of Jalalabad. He was hospitalized and a police investigation into the attack has begun, Khan said.

In March, Sultan Mahmoud Khirkhowa, a local TV journalist in eastern Khost province, was shot and killed when two men on a motorcycle opened fire on his vehicle. The Daesh affiliate claimed the attack in Khost.