Burundi to leave the ICC six months after probe announced

Burundi to leave the ICC six months after probe announced

Burundi’s government has said the country intends to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The cabinet announcement comes six months after the court’s prosecutor said she would investigate ongoing violence in the country.

“We are ready to face the consequences of withdrawal,” Vice-President Gaston Sindimwo said.

Political turmoil began in April 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunzinza began his bid for a third term.

Since then more than 400 people have been killed in unrest and more than 200,000 have fled their homes.

A draft law to begin the process of leaving the ICC is to be sent to parliament for approval.

The African Union (AU) has repeatedly complained that the ICC treats Africans and Africa unfairly.

The ICC and global justice:

  • Came into force in 2002
  • The Rome Statute that set it up has been ratified by 123 countries, but the US is a notable absence
  • It aims to prosecute and bring to justice those responsible for the worst crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes
  • In the court’s 14-year history it has only brought charges against Africans.


Countries like Kenya are also considering withdrawing from the ICC.

The Hague-based court came under intense pressure from the AU over the cases against Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, both were charged for their alleged role in the 2007 post-election violence. The cases were later dropped.

South Africa’s government also refused to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country last year. He is wanted by the ICC on genocide and war crimes charges allegedly committed in Darfur, allegations he denies.

The furore over the country’s failure to act on an ICC arrest warrant led the governing African National Congress (ANC) to suggest at the time that South Africa should withdraw its membership.

Burundi’s government says it sees its withdrawal as a way of regaining its sovereignty.

“We found that it was necessary to withdraw from that organisation so we can really be free,” Mr Sindimwo told the state-run radio, the Reuters news agency reports.

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