Health Care

Burundi officially leaves International Criminal Court

But ICC officials said a preliminary probe launched by the prosecutor in April 2016 into possible crimes against humanity in the central African nation would continue.

When the Burundian parliament voted to leave the ICC last October, lawmaker Gabriel Ntisezerana said that the court was "a political tool used by powers to remove whoever they want from power on the African continent".

Burundi on Friday became the first ever nation to leave the International Criminal Court, set up some 15 years ago to prosecute those behind the world's worst atrocities.

Burundi, a former German and Belgian colony, has been in a state of deadly political turmoil since 2015, when protests broke out after the ruling party announced that President Pierre Nkurunziza would seek a third five-year term.

South Africa's withdrawal was revoked in March 2017, while Gambia's new government reversed its withdrawal in February this year.

On 21 October 2016, Masutha had announced that South Africa had initiated the process of withdrawing from the ICC.

A United Nations commission of inquiry said last month that crimes against humanity, including killings and sexual violence, were still being committed in Burundi.

The ICC has opened investigations into ten situations, nine of which happened in Africa.

So far, ICC prosecutors have indicted 42 people, including former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Fadi El-Abdallah, a spokesman for the ICC, told the BBC's Newsday programme that "article 127 states that withdrawal does not affect the jurisdiction of the ICC over the crimes that have been committed" while the country was a member.

Catherine Ray, a spokeswoman for the European Union's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said that Burundi's withdrawal "marks a serious step backwards which risks further isolating the country within the worldwide community".

"Withdrawal from the Rome Statute does not in any way absolve Burundi of its obligations to end ongoing widespread human rights violations, or to address its abject failure to deliver justice for victims at the national level".

NAN reports that Amnesty International's Head of International Justice Matt Cannock said: "the Burundian government has made a cynical attempt to evade justice by taking the unprecedented step of withdrawing from the ICC".

The United States, along with Israel, Sudan and Russian Federation, have not ratified the statute, while other countries such as China and India have not even signed it.



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