NEW YORK — The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), an international human rights non-governmental organization composed of some 60 eminent jurists, including senior judges, attorneys and academics who are experts in international justice systems and international law, sent a candid and no-nonsense letter to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The ICJ March 19 letter tore down to pieces the reasons cited by Mr. Duterte in his unilateral withdrawal of the Philippines membership from the Rome Statute, the founding and governing treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a candid statement Monday, ICJ Secretary General Saman Zia-Zarifi said, “The Philippine government’s submitted justifications for withdrawing from the ICC are a litany of poorly thought out pseudo-legal arguments and self-serving statements that focus on President Duterte’s fear and resentment at facing questions for the horrific campaign of extrajudicial executions that his government has explicitly condoned.”

At the same time, Kingsley Abbott, Senior International Legal Adviser at the ICJ, tweeted on March 19 that “the Philippines should reconsider and reverse its hasty and ill-conceived decision to withdraw as a state party to the Rome Statute to the ICC.”

Two member countries that withdrew from the ICC in 2016 reconsidered in 2017 and are now back as members.

Those are South Africa and Gambia.

Gambia reversed course because the president who filed for withdrawal was voted out of office.

South Africa’s High Court, on the other hand, ruled that the nation’s president alone could not withdraw from ICC.

Rather, the Parliament must be the one to file for withdrawal.

In a symposium held Monday at the University of the Philippines on the ICC withdrawal by President Duterte, officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and legal academicians from UP’s College of Law expressed the opinion, among others, that Mr. Duterte should have consulted Congress in his decision to withdraw from ICC.

Likewise, the Filipino lawyers, like the ICJ jurists, did not think it was necessary to publish the Senate-ratified Rome Statute in order to take effect contrary to the position taken by Mr. Duterte.

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