27 October 2017

Burundi Withdraws From International Criminal Court

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International Criminal court.

The withdrawal of Burundi from the Statute of the International Criminal Court becomes effective since 27 October. ICC spokesperson says Burundi's withdrawal does not affect the preliminary examination of the country's situation by the court's prosecutor.

Burundi has today withdrawn from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Burundi has been the subject of a preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor since 25 April 2016 on crimes and human rights violations committed in Burundi since 2015. Burundi has suffered brutal violence that left hundreds of people dead and forced more than 400,000 to flee their homes since April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he was seeking a third term.

The report of UN Commission of Inquiry presented in September showed that crimes against humanity, including murder and sexual violence, are still being committed in Burundi. It urged the International Criminal Court to open an investigation "as soon as possible." Its findings were based on several months of investigations that involved interviews with more than 500 witnesses, it said.

"In accordance with Article 127.2 of the Statute of the Rome, the withdrawal of Burundi from ICC does not affect the Court's jurisdiction over crimes that allegedly occurred during the period of its State party, ie until 27 October 2017, "Fadi El Abdallah, ICC spokesman told Iwacu.

The Burundian Minister of Justice, Aime Laurentine Kanyana says the withdrawal of Burundi from the ICC does not mean to preserve impunity contrary to what some people say.

For Kanyana, the ICC is a complementary jurisdiction that is not necessary in Burundi. "It intervenes when national jurisdictions have not intervened where crimes against humanity or war crime have been committed. Yet, in Burundi all institutions are in place to guarantee public liberties,"says Kanyana.

Kanyana says that Burundi has decided to withdraw from the ICC because it has realized that the latter is manipulated by Europeans to destabilize Africa. "Burundi prefers to keep democracy and sovereignty. We cannot work with those who want to destabilize our country, "she says.

Burundi's withdrawal from the ICC raises doubt

Burundi had adhered to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court four years after the signing of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in 2000, which ended the civil war of 1993.

Former president, Domitien Ndayizeye, says that Burundi has adhered to this court to prevent Burundi from falling into bloody crimes that the country had experienced. "It was also a way of discouraging different governments from violating Burundians' right," says Ndayizeye.

For Ndayizeye, Burundi's withdrawal from the ICC raises doubt among Burundians and the international community. "Burundi's withdrawal from the ICC does not allow the government to violate human rights since it still member of the United Nations and African Union" he says.

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