“Don’t go!” That was the heartfelt appeal to African nations as the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened its annual meeting on Wednesday under the cloud of a wave of unprecedented defections, AFP reports.
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On Monday, Gambia had officially informed the United Nations of its intention to withdraw from the court, in the wake of South Africa and Burundi.
“Don’t go,” pleaded Senegalese politician Sidiki Kaba, the president of the ICC’s Assembly of State Parties meeting in The Hague.
Kaba said: “In a world criss-crossed by violent extremism… it is urgent and necessary to defend the ideal of justice for all.”
The Senegalese politician, while admitting that some African nations had witnessed “injustice” in the investigations brought before the court so far, offered reassurances, saying: “You have been heard.”
“The court had to redouble its efforts to convince countries to return, and to ensure that there was truly universal justice for all,” Kaba said.
The tribunal opened in 2002 in The Hague as a court of last resort to try the world’s worst crimes. But in his passionate plea, Kaba admitted it was going through a “difficult moment”.
Currently nine out of the 10 ICC investigations are in African countries. The other is in Georgia.
Amid accusations of bias against Africa, Kenya, Namibia and Uganda have also indicated they are considering pulling out of the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty.