ICC may issue arrest warrants vs heads of state if necessary

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​Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 22) — The International Criminal Court can issue arrest warrants against heads of state and other government officials if there is sufficient proof to accuse them of a certain crime, ICC Spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah said Thursday.

"Yes, it is possible because the immunity of the heads of state is not something that is opposable to the ICC," El Abdallah said during his Facebook Live video when asked about the matter. 

"And same logic if the Security Council imposes the Rome Statute as an obligation to a state that is not part of the Rome Statute, the same article — Article 27 — remains applicable for the ICC," he added.

The Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, "investigates and, where warranted, tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community." 

Article 27 states that the statute "shall apply equally to all persons without any distinction based on official capacity."

The ICC's pre-trial chamber recently authorized the start of an investigation into the Duterte administration's bloody drug war, as well as the alleged Davao Death Squad's extrajudicial killings. 

The probe covers supposed crimes committed from November 1, 2011 to March 16, 2019. In 2011, due to term limits, President Rodrigo Duterte was then Davao City vice mayor while his daughter Sara served as mayor. Duterte was the city's mayor for over two decades before being elected in 2016 as President - from 1988 to 1998; 2001 to 2010; and again from 2013 to 2016. Because of his crime-fighting tactics, he earned the monickers "Dirty Harry" and "the Punisher."

The incumbent administration earlier said it will not cooperate with the ICC in relation to its investigation, arguing the court has no jurisdiction over the Philippines following the country's withdrawal from the ICC two years ago. 

The ICC has maintained it has jurisdiction over supposed crimes committed while the Philippines was still a state party.

The Philippines ratified the Rome Statute on August 30, 2011.

In 2018, Duterte announced he would pull the country out of the international court’s jurisdiction. The Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC took effect in March 2019.