Burundi has become the first country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), a spokesman for the court in Hague told dpa on Friday.
An ICC spokesman confirmed that the pullout takes effect on Friday, a year after the East African nation notified the United Nations secretary-general of its intention to leave the court that prosecutes the world’s worst atrocities.
The country had launched the process of leaving the court in 2016, with the government saying the ICC was biased against African nations.
UPDATE: Burundi first country to leave ICC https://t.co/jGdIfKkwaV
— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) October 27, 2017
On October 27, 2016, Burundi presented its letter of intent to the immediate past Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon to begin the one year withdrawal process.
This follows the court’s decision to initiate an investigation into possible war crimes violations related to the violence in 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he was seeking a third term.
Gambia and South Africa had announced their withdrawal in 2016.
South Africa’s withdrawal was revoked in March 2017, while Gambia’s new government reversed its withdrawal in February this year.
Burundi’s withdrawal doesn’t affect the preliminary examination of the country’s situation already under way by the court’s prosecutor, ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah told The Associated Press.
The probe began in April 2016 and was “independent, impartial and objective,” the court spokesman added.
“Burundi’s official withdrawal from the International Criminal Court is the latest example of the government’s deplorable efforts to shield those responsible for grave human rights violations from any kind of accountability,” Param-Preet Singh, Human Rights Watch’s associate director of international justice, said in a statement Friday.
“We urge the ICC to take a progressive approach in interpreting its jurisdiction so that victims maintain a viable path to justice.”
Kenya and Uganda had also threatened to quit the ICC with Zambia launching a nationwide consultative process on whether to leave or stay as a member of the court.