Gambia has announced its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) – even as the West African nation accused the tribunal of the “persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans”.
The announcement, which was made on Tuesday, October 25, comes after similar decisions earlier this month by South Africa and Burundi to abandon the Hague-based institution, set up to try the world’s worst crimes.
Speaking on Tuesday evening on the country’s decision, Gambian Information Minister Sheriff Bojang said on state television that the global judicial body was really “an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans.”
Bojang also singled out the case of the former British prime minister Tony Blair, whom the ICC decided not to indict over the Iraq war.
“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,” he 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 justice minister.
Experts believe Kenya, Namibia and Uganda could be among the next countries to leave the court.
For years, many African nations have claimed that the ICC, which was established in 2002, is biased against the continent’s leaders. Nine of its 10 current investigations involve African countries.