By Najibu Mulema
Early this month, Burundi and South Africa announced their plans to withdraw from the International Criminal Court(ICC),the body which was set up to try the world’s most dangerous criminals.
That was just the beginning.Now Gambia has become the third African country to announce its withdraw from the ICC within a period of not more than a month.
The ICC was set up in 2002 and is often accused of bias against Africa and has also struggled with a lack ofcooperation, including from the US, which has signed the court’s treaty but never ratified it.
According to Al jazeera, The court had been used “for the persecution of Africans and especially their leaders” while ignoring crimes committed by the West, Sheriff Bojang, Gambia’s information minister, said on state television.
He singled out the case of Tony Blair, former British prime minister, who the ICC decided not to indict over the Iraq
“There are many Western countries, at least 30, that have committed heinous war crimes against independent
sovereign states and their citizens since the creation of the ICC and not a single Western war criminal has been
indicted,” Bojang said.
The withdrawal, he said, “is warranted by the fact that the ICC, despite being called International Criminal Court, is in fact an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans”.
Gambia has been trying, without success, to use the ICC to punish the EU for the deaths of thousands of African
refugees and migrants trying to reach its shores.
The decision will also come as a personal blow to the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, a former Gambian
Burundi had said earlier this month it would leave the court, while Namibia and Kenya have also raised the possibility.
Over the weekend, the ICC asked South Africa and Burundi to reconsider their decisions, which came as a major blow
to the institution.
“I urge them to work together with other states in the fight against impunity, which often causes massive violations of
human rights,” Sidiki Kaba, president of the assembly of state parties to the ICC founding treaty, said in a statement.
Alleged war crimes South Africa’s decision followed a dispute last year when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited the country despite being the subject of an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes.
Kaba said he was concerned that South Africa and Burundi’s decisions would pave the way for other African states to
leave the court.
The tribunal is entrusted with “prosecuting the most serious crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, namely
genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression”.