Burundi Becomes the First Nation to Withdraw from the ICC

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. It came after the country's lawmakers approved a bill on the said withdrawal.

The small African country of Burundi, where ICC prosecutors are investigating alleged human rights violations, has become the first to leave the International Criminal Court; the government claims that the institution is biased against non-Western countries.

The ICC is now investigating claims that the Burundian government committed crimes against humanity, including executions and torture following protests by the opposition in 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza pushed for a third term in office.

Last month, a UN Commission of Enquiry on Burundi delivered a report to the Human Rights Council, alleging that Burundi's top leaders and state security agencies have committed crimes against humanity and urged the ICC to open an investigation.

122 countries are members of the ICC, 34 of which are African nations.

And Kenya and Uganda have also threatened to leave, but not acted on it yet. "The withdrawal from the Statute by a State Party would represent a setback in the fight against impunity and the efforts towards the objective of universality of the Statute", indicated President Kaba.

Burundi has elapsed the one-year withdrawal process from the Statute on Friday, October 27, 2017.

However, these concerns have fallen on deaf ears as the country has gone ahead with the withdrawal.

ICC spokesman Fadi El-Abdallah on Thursday said the withdrawal by Burundi will not affect ongoing investigations.

But Burundi's snub triggered a wave of copy-cat moves from other African countries.

"Burundi has failed to hold people responsible for brutal crimes to account and has sunk to a new low by attempting to deny victims justice before the ICC".

United Nations investigators last month urged the ICC to move forwards and open a full scale investigation saying they had "reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed" in "a systematic attack against the civilian population".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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