Burundi Threatens to Abandon ICC After Investigations Launched
Burundi has threatened to pull out of the Rome Statute that places it under the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) jurisdiction.The threat comes after the ICC launched preliminary investigations into the post-election violence that broke out last year following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial thrid-term win.
Burundi calls out ICC over investigations
The threat to pull out of the Rome Statue was fired as a warning shot by Burundi’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Nyamitwe, who called out the organisation directly. Burundi is one of numerous African Union (AU) states calling for a withdrawal from the ICC, claiming it targets African leaders. Nyamitwe took the opportunity to remind the court of this growing sentiment after it announced investigations into the Burundi violence.
“Should the ICC not respect what the African Union has been asking for, then we have no choice but to follow what others in the continent have come up with as an alternative,” he said.
It’s an aggressive statement given the wider context of the ICC’s tarnished reputation in Africa. If the AU member states in question pull out of the Rome Statute, it would put the court’s jurisdiction across the entire continent under threat.
The ICC’s ongoing struggle in Africa
The events that have taken place in Burundi over the last fifteen months haven’t left the ICC with much option other than investigation. Since Pierre Nkurunziza announced his plans to run for a third term, more than 400 people are estimated to have been killed and thousands forced to flee their homes.
Those estimates are likely to fall drastically short of the real figures – but only independent investigations would be able tell.
Targeted killings, reports of rape, kidnapping and torture are precisely the kind of human rights violations the ICC was set up to investigate. However, the court is losing authority among many African nations who accuse it of targeting leaders across the continent. They argue similar cases in other parts of the world escape the ICC’s attention, while it’s busy focusing on Africa.
The ICC’s highest profile case against Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir has weakened the court’s position across Africa more than any other. Despite warrants being out for his arrest, the Sudanese leader was recently allowed to visit South Africa and Uganda, who are obliged by the Rome Statute to aid in his arrest.
By Vincent van Zeijst – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15414322