Burundi: ICC opens ‘crimes against humanity’ investigation, government refuses to cooperate

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has authorised a full investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity in Burundi.

Burundi became the first nation to leave the international court last month but ICC officials warned the country’s government that withdrawal wouldn’t prevent it from investigating and prosecuting individuals. The Burundi government says it will not cooperate with the ICC’s investigations.

Burundi rejects investigation

Following the ICC’s announcement that events in Burundi will be investigated, the African nation’s government was quick to reject the notion.

“Burundi rejects this decision from the very outset,” said Justice Minister Aimee Laurentine Kanyana on Friday – a day after the ICC announced the investigation.

She says the government wasn’t notified of the ICC’s decision before Burundi withdrew from the Rome Statute on October 27, which means the country isn’t bound by the Hague-based court’s decision.

The minister says Burundi will not cooperate with any investigations.

“In any case, Burundi will never begin cooperation with the ICC for implementing a decision that was taken in violation of the Rome Statute and the principles of international law,” she said.

ICC targets Burundi

The ICC’s stance on Burundi’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute has been simple: it will not allow the country to escape investigations into the alleged human rights violations to have taken place since April 2015.

Rights groups and international lawyers seeking justice in Burundi have praised the court’s decision.

“The government of Burundi thought it had escaped international justice by withdrawing from the ICC,” Armel Niyongere, a member of an international group of lawyers for victims of crimes committed in Burundi, said of the decision.

“The government of Burundi thought it had escaped international justice by withdrawing from the ICC,” he said.

“This is a great victory for the Burundian people.”

 

Featured image: By Vincent van Zeijst – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15414322

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.