Gambia quits International Criminal Court

Move makes Gambia third African country to leave tribunal after Burundi, South Africa

Gambia quits International Criminal Court

World Bulletin / News Desk

Gambia has become the third African country to announce its withdrawal from the Hague-based International Criminal Court, after Burundi and South Africa. 

In a televised address on Tuesday night, the country’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang accused the tribunal of bias and discrimination in favor of the West. 

"This is warranted by the fact that the ICC, despite being called the International Criminal Court, is in fact an international Caucasian court for the prosecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans," Bojang said.

Established in 2002 under the Rome Statute, the ICC is a complementary court that helps states with weaker judiciary to prosecute cases they are either unwilling or unable to take. The court pursues the gravest crimes including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

"There are many Western countries, at least 30, that have committed heinous war crimes against independent sovereign states and their citizens since the creation of the ICC and not a single Western war criminal has been indicted," Bojang said.

A Gambian civil society leader and now a strong critic of President Yahya Jammeh, Madi Jobarteh told Anadolu Agency that the decision of Gambia and other African countries to leave the ICC stemmed from their desire to evade justice.

"The actions by Gambia, Burundi and South Africa with many more African countries to follow suit soon has nothing to do with the colonial hogwash or conflicting obligations. Rather it has everything to do with the fact that the leaders of Africa do not wish to be held to account for their corruption, abuse of rights and perpetuation of atrocities against their own people," Jobarteh said.

“The evidence of this in the fact that in 2014, when they met in Malabo, Equitorial Guinea, these leaders made an amendment to the protocol establishing the African Court of Justice and Human and People’s Rights that the court shall not investigate and prosecute sitting heads of state and senior government officials," he added.

Gambia’s President Jammeh will be seeking a fifth term as his country prepares for a presidential election on December 1 and he is often accused by right groups of human rights abuses.

A rare protest erupted in April in the small West African nation which led to the arrest and imprisonment of the leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party and death in state custody of two party members.

In 2013, the Gambian government withdrew from the Commonwealth accusing it of being a "neo-colonial" institution.

On Oct. 17, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza signed a decree to withdraw from the ICC, a decision that was criticized by the international community. Opposition parties and civil society members said the decision reflected the alleged involvement of Bujumbura in crimes against humanity and violations of human rights.

Last Friday, South Africa’s Justice Minister Michael Masutha said his country had also begun a formal process to withdraw from the ICC.

South Africa’s main opposition party Democratic Alliance later challenged the government’s decision to withdraw from the ICC in the country’s Constitutional Court.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Ekim 2016, 14:05