Gambia says it is leaving International Criminal Court

Posted October 27, 2016

The Guardian reports that Bojang accused the Hague-based court of humiliating, persecuting, and unfairly targeting Africans, echoing similar sentiments expressed by South Africa and Burundi as they announced their decision to withdraw from the global court earlier this month.

Gambia's information minister accused "at least 30" Western countries of having committed war crimes against their citizens since the ICC was founded more than a decade ago and said none has been targeted by the court.

So this week Gambia became the third African nation - following Burundi and South Africa - to bail out of the International Criminal Court (or more properly, out of the treaty that binds it to the court). The ICC has not investigated Gambia, but Bojang said the court has failed to take seriously atrocities committed by westerners, pointing to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's involvement in the Iraq War.

Burundi has informed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of its decision to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC), a Foreign Ministry official said on Wednesday. Withdrawal would not take effect for one year following any formal notification to the United Nations, and Gambia can not avoid its current responsibilities under worldwide law by withdrawing from the Statute.

The tribunal was set up in 2002 and is tasked with "prosecuting the most serious crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression".

Experts believe Kenya, Namibia, and Uganda could be among the next countries to leave the court.

The decision is also striking because the ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is Gambia's former minister of justice.

Burundi was the first country to announce its intended departure on October 7 after the court said it would investigate political violence there.

UNTIL last week, no country had withdrawn from the International Criminal Court.

According to Al Jazeera, Gambia has been trying, without success, to use the ICC to punish the European Union for the deaths of thousands of African refugees and migrants trying to reach its shores.

The ICC wants South Africa to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the court, urging it to talk with the other countries involved before making a final decision.

But some African countries have argued the court has unfairly targeted their continent and they are strengthening their own institutions to deal with threats to human rights. The next presidential election is in December.

Since becoming prosecutor of the ICC, she has been at pains to deny that the 14-year-old body is singling out African human rights violators for attention.

All but one of the ICC's 10 investigations have been Africa-based.