Several days after South Africa notified the UN of its intentions to leave the International Criminal Court, Burundi has done the same, and the Gambia will soon follow. The three African countries are looking to withdraw from the Rome Statute out of protest against the ICC’s allegedly unfair focus on the African continent. In an interview with TV5 Monde, Dr. Aaron Matta stated this could be the start of more troubles for the ICC, if other countries such as Kenya might follow.
Dr. Matta posed that, in spite of the reasoning provided in public, South Africa, Burundi and the Gambia all have their own specific reasons for retreating from the ICC. South Africa has been criticized for failing to apprehend Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president who is wanted for war crimes, while he was in the country. Burundi authorities might be investigated for serious violations of human rights. “By no longer being part of the ICC they can elude prosecution for genocide,” said Dr. Matta. “A smear campaign has started because these countries feel intimidated by the Court. Criticisms have intensified over the last three years. Persons who are subject to investigation, or those who could be, try to protect themselves.”
“It is not for nothing that these countries are making noise. The Court is doing its job. This wave of departures will certainly hurt the ICC, but I don’t think that all African countries will follow suit. Three or four countries leaving will not topple the Court.”
Dr. Aaron Matta