3 Countries to Quit International Criminal Court

Gambia says it unfairly targets Africans
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 26, 2016 7:50 AM CDT
3 Countries to Quit International Criminal Court
Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh in 2014.   (Frank Franklin II)

A third African country says it will leave the International Criminal Court as fears grow of a mass pullout from the body that pursues some of the world's worst atrocities. Gambia announced the decision on TV Tuesday, accusing the court of unfairly targeting Africa and calling it the "International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans," per the AP. The move comes after South Africa last week notified the UN secretary-general it would leave the court; withdrawal takes effect a year after the notification is received. Early last week, Burundi's president signed legislation to leave the court as well. The EU director for Human Rights Watch calls the decisions "shameful."

Gambia's decision is striking because the ICC's chief prosecutor is Gambian. However, the country's information minister says the court is involved in "the persecution of Africans, and especially their leaders," rather than those in Western countries. He singled out former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Only Africans have been charged in the six ICC cases that are ongoing or about to begin, though preliminary investigations have opened elsewhere. Signatory countries have a legal obligation to arrest anyone sought by the tribunal, but some African states have allowed people wanted by the ICC, notably Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, to visit, and some say leaders ought to be immune from prosecution. (More Gambia stories.)

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