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Philippines due to leave ICC over drug war inquiry

AFP  |  Manila 

The was poised to officially quit the on Sunday, though the beleaguered has pledged to pursue its examination of possible crimes in the government's deadly drug war.

Manila's withdrawal is to become final a year after it told the that it was quitting the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal, the second nation to do so.

"The .. informed all concerned states that the withdrawal will take effect for the on 17 March," UN told AFP on Friday.

The and the ICC on Sunday had yet to comment on the withdrawal's effectivity.

The departure of the follows the court being hit in recent years by high-profile acquittals and moves by several nations to drop out.

moved to quit after the body launched a preliminary examination in 2018 into Rodrigo Duterte's drug crackdown that has killed thousands and drawn international censure.

Duterte's drug war is his signature policy initiative and he defends it fiercely, especially from international critics like Western leaders and institutions which he says do not care about his country.

However, court officials have said the preliminary probe launched by ICC in February 2018 into possible crimes against humanity in the drug war would continue.

Under the court's rules, any matter under consideration before a nation leaves the court is still under its jurisdiction.

Duterte has made it clear his government will not cooperate with the ICC in any way.

"The court "can never acquire jurisdiction over my person, not in a million years," he said in a speech on Wednesday.

Rights group said on Sunday the withdrawal should prompt the to probe the killings.

"Filipinos bravely challenging the 'war on drugs' or seeking justice for their loved ones need international support to help them end this climate of fear, violence and impunity," said

The ICC examination, which is one step before a full-blown probe, zeroes in on allegations the government has been involved in illegal killings as part of the crackdown Duterte launched in mid-2016.

Police say they have killed 5,176 users or pushers who resisted arrest, but rights groups say the actual number of dead is at least triple that number.

Critics have alleged the crackdown amounts to a war on the poor that feeds an undercurrent of impunity and lawlessness in the nation of 106 million.

The Philippines' move to exit follows a string of setbacks for the ICC, including the January acquittal of former leader and the June 2018 not guilty verdict for former DR

in 2017 became the first ever nation to leave the court, which was founded in 2002.

In a wave of unprecedented defections, other African nations -- Zambia, South Africa, and -- have also made moves to quit or expressed interest in withdrawing as they accused the court of being biased against Africans.

However, the court this month got a boost when officially joined, making it one of just a handful of Asian members.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, March 17 2019. 15:16 IST