Members of Burundi’s National Assembly raise their arm to vote on October 12, 2016 in Bujumbura, for the withdrawal of the International Criminal Court (ICC) from the capital, after the UN began an enquiry into human rights abuses in the turbulent nation.
Rights organisations on Friday condemned a vote by Burundian lawmakers to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, warning the government was trying to hide abuses from the eyes of the world.
If Burundi quits the tribunal it would be “a significant escalation of the regime’s policy to isolate itself,” said Dimitris Christopoulos, president of the FIDH, which represents human rights groups around the world.
“This attempt to deprive the international community of its eyes and ears in Burundi in order to continue to commit serious crimes with impunity and without the world knowing, requires a strong and immediate response from the African Union and the United Nations,” he added.
Burundian lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to withdraw from the tribunal in the Hague, taking the central African nation a step closer to being the first ever to quit the body.
The move is the latest snub of the international community by Burundi, which has been mired in 18 months of violent political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term in office.
A spokesperson for the ICC said withdrawing from the Rome Statute which underpins the tribunal was “a voluntary and sovereign decision which is the prerogative of all states.”
But Burundi appears not to have formally written to the UN secretary general informing him of the decision.
Once formal notification is received, the country’s departure from the 124-nation body will only become effective after a year.
However, ICC spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah told AFP that even if a country leaves the ICC it is still bound by any ongoing actions.
In April, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda launched a preliminary investigation into reports of “killing, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as cases of enforced disappearances”.
The initial probe is aimed at determining whether there is enough evidence to proceed to a full-blown investigation by ICC prosecutors which could result in charges against those believed responsible for the violence.
Abdallah said the court had had “overwhelming support of African states” when it opened in 2002 as the world’s only permanent war crimes court.
Its mission was “to fight impunity for atrocity crimes, and by so doing, strengthen the rule of law, break the cycles of violence and to contribute to peace and stability.”
Washington Is Unhappy That Burundi Is ‘Very Happy’ to Be Leaving the ICC
And on Wednesday, 94 of Burundi’s 110 national assembly lawmakers voted in favor of a plan to withdraw the country from the International Criminal Court. The decision was then unanimously approved by the senate, and now waits only for the president’s approval.
In a phone call Wednesday, Burundian Ambassador to Washington Ernest Ndabashinze told Foreign Policy that his government is “very happy about that, because we have seen the ICC manipulated by some countries.”
“It sounds like the ICC was created just for Africans when there are other cases in the world, but no one is working on that,” he said.
Since its creation in 1998, no nation has voted to withdraw itself from the ICC. But assuming Ndabashinze speaks for Nkurunziza’s administration, it sounds like the president is prepared to give the legislation the green light.
“It’s in the past for us,” the ambassador told FP on Wednesday. “We are not a member of the ICC now.”
The United States has repeatedly expressed concern about human rights in Burundi, where refugees have accused security forces of hunting down government opponents, executing them in the streets, then throwing their bodies in mass graves. Earlier this year, Amnesty International published satellite imagery they said indicates the existence of those graves — claims that the Burundian government has vehemently denied.
On Wednesday, State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a press briefing that the United States is “concerned by recent developments with regard to Burundi’s human rights situation, including the Burundian government’s announced decision to proceed with legislation that would lead to withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.”
“Such a move…would isolate Burundi from its neighbors and the international community at a time when accountability, transparency, and engaged dialogue are most needed,” Kirby said.
But the United States itself is not a member of the ICC. That point was not lost on Ndabashinze, who scoffed when asked whether Burundi sought U.S. advice on the court decision. “How do you want us to consult the U.S. when the U.S. is not a member of the ICC?” he asked.
thanks to intrigued for the link..
expect to see some activity in burundi..maybe blakc flga type activity..
and here is the ultimate hypocrisy:
“John Kirby said at a press briefing that the United States is “concerned by recent developments with regard to Burundi’s human rights situation, including the Burundian government’s announced decision to proceed with legislation that would lead to withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.”
“But the United States itself is not a member of the ICC. That point was not lost on Ndabashinze, who scoffed when asked whether Burundi sought U.S. advice on the court decision. “How do you want us to consult the U.S. when the U.S. is not a member of the ICC?” he asked.”