South Africa has announced its intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). According to the Daily Maverick, South African diplomats delivered a formal notice of withdrawal to the Rome Statute of the ICC, initiating a year-long process. In its deposition, South Africa accused the Hague-based court of bias against African countries. South Africa maintains that there are examples of inequality and unfairness in the conduct of the ICC, its relationship with the Security Council, and to the court’s alleged focus on crimes committed in Africa, despite there being evidence of similar violations existing on other continents.
The ICC was established in 1998 under the Rome Statute, with many African countries as signatories. In the years since, the court has indicted 36 individuals who all happen to be from Africa.
South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the ICC echoes the position of many African countries that have accused the court of discrimination. In 2009, several African countries including Senegal, Djibouti, and the Comoros called on Africa to withdraw en masse from the ICC to protest allegations that the court unfairly targets African countries.
Here is a compiled list of five African countries that are likely to withdraw from the ICC and follow in the steps of South Africa and Burundi.
Source: Atrocities Watch
Earlier this month, Burundi became the first nation to formally request withdrawal from the ICC. The decision to leave the court comes six months after ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said her office would launch an investigation into last year’s politically motivated violence, in which hundreds of Burundians lost their lives.
Burundi’s government said its decision was based on the ICC’s history of seeking selective justice, which unfairly targets Africans. Speaking about his country’s resolve, Burundi Vice President Gaston Sindimwo said the country was ready to face the consequences of its decision from the rest of the international community.
Sudan is one of three countries that signed the Rome Statute, only to later inform the United Nations secretary general that it no longer wants to be part of the treaty
At the 2015 African Union Summit in South Africa, the ICC urged South African authorities to hand over Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for prosecution. In 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir for war crimes, including rape, torture, murder, and the forcible transfer of a segment of the country’s population. Al-Bashir was the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the court, but he has managed to evade prosecution or arrest. He is one of six other Sudanese suspects to have been indicted by the ICC as of 2012.
In 2013, Kenya’s national assembly proposed a motion to withdraw from the ICC in protest of the court’s investigation into several senior government officials, including President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, over crimes against humanity charges including rape, murder, and persecution committed during the post-election violence that rocked Kenya in 2007.
In 2014, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni called on all African countries to review their membership to the ICC. Along with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Museveni is one of the most vocal critics of the ICC, referring to the court as a “bunch of useless people.” Uganda is a ratified signatory of the Rome Statute, but Museveni’s comments appear to show a willingness by his government to ditch the court at the slightest prompting.
The Ugandan president was not always against the ICC. His government referred some members of the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army to the court in 2003.
Source: Zero Hunger Challenge
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is one biggest critics of the ICC, repeatedly calling on all AU-member countries to ditch the court. President Mugabe never spares an opportunity to dismiss the operations of the ICC, labeling it as a “Western creation.” He famously called for the establishment of an African version of the ICC to try Europeans for their legion of crimes committed during the colonial era.
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