ON MY WATCH
By MANUEL L. CABALLERO
SOVEREIGNTY NO LONGER ABSOLUTE POWER; PERCEiVED REASONS WHY IT IS NOT "END OF THE WORLD" TO BE IMPRISONED IN ICC CELLS
At the rate certain Filipino officials, starting from its president , are speaking against the International Criminal Court 's decision rejecting the PH government's appeal to stop its investigation of ex-president Rodrigo Duterte, et al, those officials are virtually re-introducing the Philippines to the world as a primitive country that does not recognize public international law that governs the community of nations in this modern day of globalization and interdependence among countries. Exactly the opposite of its Tourism Department's "Love the Philippines" slogan.
It speaks of irresponsible remarks who think they could protect seeming as well as actual criminals from prosecution in the name of sovereignty and because they are political allies. What a disservice to the Republic they swore to serve! What a way to embarrass millions of Filipinos abroad! Those smart alecks are flaunting ignorance of the rule of international law and international criminal justice.
Google accurately says the old concept of sovereignty as absolute and unrestricted power of a state has undergone changes during the 20th century. Restrictions on the freedom of action started to appear with the approval of International Conventions and Treaties. Examples are The Hague Convention, The Covenant of the League of Nations, the United Nations, The Kellogg-Briand Pact, the UN Charter. One of the latest was the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, with the explicit consent of over 100 countries, including the PH.
(Ex-president Duterte withdrew the PH membership from ICC in 2019 thinking erroneously that in so doing, he could avoid prosecution).
As a result of above developments, sovereignty "ceased to be considered as synonymous with unrestrained power."
Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annansaid the following about the ICC:
The Court is participating in a global fight to end impunity, and through international criminal justice, the Court aims to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again.
In my view, whoever gets imprisoned at the ICC prison cells should not fear it is the end of the world because of the following:
1. ICC cannot impose imprisonment of over 30 years.
2. The Hague, where ICC is located in the Netherlands, is the best city in the world, (no.1) according to "Quality of Life Index" as of mid-year 2023.
3. The ICC prison buildings are recently-built. In short, new, and perhaps, comfortable.
To-date, according to a reliable update, there have thus far been 31 cases before the ICC, with some cases having more than one suspect.
ICC judges have issued 40 arrest warrants. Thanks to cooperation from States, 21 people have been detained in the ICC detention centre and have appeared before the Court. 16 people remain at large. Charges have been dropped against 5 people due to their deaths.
ICC judges have also issued 9 summonses to appear.
The judges have issued 10 convictions and 4 acquittals.