With South Africa, Burundi, The Gambia, and now Russia abandoning the International Criminal Court, who will be next to jump ship?
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin removed Russia’s signature from the founding treaty of the ICC, which it never joined. Duterte said he might consider the more drastic step of quitting a court the Philippines joined in 2011.
“They are useless, those in the international criminal (court). They (Russia) withdrew. I might follow. Why? Only the small ones like us are battered,” Duterte said before his departure for Lima to attend an Asia-Pacific summit.
Why does Duterte want to leave the ICC, you ask? Uh, did you not read the “mass murdering” thing up there?
An ICC prosecutor last month said the Hague-based tribunal may have jurisdiction to prosecute the perpetrators of killings in the Philippines’ drug war, in which more than 2,400 have been killed.
The one thing the ICC has going for it is that most of the countries abandoning it are doing so for purely and obviously self-interested reasons. Duterte doesn’t want to be investigated for organizing hit squads to execute weed smokers. Putin doesn’t want to be investigated for annexing Crimea. The Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh didn’t want to be investigated for his lousy human rights record. Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza is already under investigation on account of how he keeps killing people in order to keep himself in power. So they’ve all got selfish reasons to want to withdraw from the court. But South Africa is a different story, and that’s the withdrawal that really doesn’t bode well for the ICC long-term. Well, none of the withdrawals bode well for the ICC long-term; if every country you investigate will just quit the court, then pretty soon you’re probably going to stop investigating countries. But South Africa is the first country that opted to leave the court despite having no immediate reason to do so.