The International Criminal Court (ICC) received another tongue-lashing from President Rodrigo Duterte Friday.
That was right after US National Security Advisor John Bolton threatened to arrest and sanction the judges of The Hague – based tribunal for wanting to try American military and intelligence staff for alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan.
Duterte should save his tirades for worthier adversaries as the ICC is in danger of imploding any time after its imprudent decision to go head-to-head with a mighty super power, even as the court is suffering from a credibility and identity crisis.
Why the ICC is picking on the US and the Philippines has as much to do with trying to live up to its name as an “international” court rather than bringing real justice to victims of war crimes and genocide.
Since its creation in July 2002, the ICC had for the most part prosecuted African officials.
Current cases involve defendants from African states like Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir and former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo. The other government and military officials from Africa undergoing pre-trial and trial by ICC are from Ivory Coast, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Sudan and Uganda – all part of the African continent.
The ICC had convicted three Africans, including two from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The court’s president, Chile Eboe-Osuji, is from Nigeria while the prosecutor who had declared she will investigate Duterte for the deaths of drug suspects, Fatou Bensouda, is from Gambia.
Ironically, like the Philippines, Gambia withdrew as member and party to the Rome Statute that created the ICC.
For all intents and purposes, the ICC should be called ACC (African Criminal Court) or FCC (French Criminal Court) since the countries where it is imposing its jurisdiction are former colonies of France.
But with nearly 150-million euro budget for its operation and half-million dollar salaries of the judges, the so-called international court must justify its existence. That is the obvious reason ICC expanded the scope of its jurisdiction and now wants to prove to the world it can deliver justice.
How ICC can achieve such a feat is the million-dollar question. In all likelihood, it will never be able to prosecute a world power that refuses to come under the court’s jurisdiction. In fact, the ICC has failed to enforce the arrest of Al-Bashir until today.
If ICC goes after Duterte, it will go against more than 16 million Filipinos who voted him into office in 2016. These Filipinos gave Duterte the mandate to eradicate drug addiction and trafficking, criminality and corruption in government.
Any action by ICC against Duterte will prevent or, at the very least hamper, him in the performance of such mandate, thereby earning for the court the enmity of the Filipinos who will face renewed threats from emboldened drug addicts and criminal syndicates.
The ICC should take note of the fact that almost eight out of 10 Filipinos are satisfied with the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs as shown by the results of the Second Quarter 2018 Social Weather Stations survey published Saturday.
“This is a testament that the drug war continues to enjoy the broad support of our people, notwithstanding the efforts of the detractors and critics of the administration to politicize the issue or discredit the campaign’s success,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Sunday.
“Filipinos aspire for a crime-free society which can be realized by stopping the spread of criminality and fighting the scourge of drugs,” Roque added.
The ICC has no business prosecuting President Duterte; it will be usurping and undermining the functioning and independent Philippine judiciary. The Philippines is unlike some countries in Africa that have weak judicial systems.
At any rate, ICC has unlawfully supplanted the courts of DR Congo, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Sudan and Uganda by prosecuting and imprisoning leaders and military officials from those African countries. By extension of logic, it could be argued that such action makes ICC an extrajudicial court and its rulings extrajudicial punishment.
It would be best for the ICC to leave the Philippines alone.