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The Philippines will sever contact with the International Criminal Court (ICC), the country’s president announced Tuesday, after the Netherlands-based tribunal rejected an appeal by the government to stop investigating former President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs, Al Jazeera reported.

The ICC resumed its investigation in January into allegations from human rights groups and victims that Philippine authorities conducted systematic executions during Duterte’s bloody crackdown on illicit drugs. The initial investigation into crimes committed since 2016 was authorized in 2021, but deferred when the government of the Philippines protested.

Police said that more than 6,000 people were killed in operations that took place during Duterte’s presidency between 2016 and 2022. The former president and police officials emphasized that the suspects were killed in self-defense.

But human rights groups estimate that up to 30,000 people were killed in vigilante-style operations, according to Rappler, a Philippines-based publication.

Duterte and his successor, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., have criticized the ICC’s investigation and called the probe an “attack” on the country’s sovereignty.

Marcos Jr. added that the government has not been cooperating with the ICC and that the Philippines’ own institutions are capable of prosecuting crimes, a claim the ICC has rejected.

The president also questioned whether the tribunal still has jurisdiction in the Philippines, after Duterte withdrew the country from the ICC’s founding treaty in 2018.

The ICC’s treaty stipulates, however, that the court can still probe crimes that took place while a country was a member.

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