Burundi’s government says it plans to withdraw its membership from the International Criminal Court (ICC), reports Reuters. The withdrawal announcement comes six months after an investigation began in to the violence that erupted due to President Pierre Nkurunzinza’s bid for a third term during the 2015 election. In April, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the court would look into the post-election violence that left at least 450 people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
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Last week, Burundi’s Vice President, Gaston Sindimwo, told the press that officials had drafted a law to officially withdraw from the ICC and had sent it to the national assembly for adoption.
“We are ready to face the consequences of withdrawal,” Sindimwo added, maintaining that the government is not worried about a possible backlash from the international community.
Sindimwo insisted that Burundi would be OK, even if it had to suffer diplomatic consequences for its decision.
“You know, we may be isolated, but it’s fine with us if [that] is the case. At least we will be enjoying our freedom,” he explained.
“How many countries did not ratify this convention? Are they isolated? The United States, Russia, China, and even some neighbouring countries did not!” he said, referring to the fact that the majority of the world’s super powers have been reluctant to ratify the Rome Statute that brought the ICC into existence in 1998.
The activities of the ICC, however well-intended, continue to be a source of great division for many African countries, which have accused the Hague-based court of selectively pursuing justice. The ICC typically tries those accused of war crimes, genocides, and crimes against humanity, but in its 14-year history, more than 90 percent of the people it has tried have come from Africa.