Gambia’s government has joined South Africa and Burundi in announcing they are withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing the Hague-based tribunal of prosecuting only Africans and ignoring the “war crimes” of Western countries.
“The Government of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia hereby informs all and sundry, the withdrawal of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia’s Membership of the International Criminal Court,” Gambia’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang said in a statement he read on state television (GRTS) on Tuesday.
“There are many Western countries, at least 30, that have committed heinous war crimes against independent sovereign states and their citizens since the creation of the ICC and not a single Western war criminal has been indicted,” the statement said.
The president of the tiny west African country Yahya Jammeh has previously called on the ICC to investigate African migrant deaths on the Mediterranean, and accused European nations of not responding to it.
Gambia becomes the third African country to announce it is withdrawing from the Hague-based court that has a Gambian as its Chief Prosecutor.
Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda was as an adviser to Jammeh in the early years of his rule after he seized power in 1994. She later served him as justice minister.
South Africa decision a blow
South Africa dealt a heavy blow to the troubled international court on Friday by announcing it was withdrawing from an institution set up to prosecute the world’s worst crimes.
The decision followed a dispute last year when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited the country for an African Union summit despite facing an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes.
And earlier this month, Burundian lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to withdraw from the ICC.
Rights organisations said Burundi’s government was trying to hide abuses from the eyes of the world.
Namibia and Kenya have also raised the possibility of leaving the ICC, which has often been accused of bias against African leaders.
Of the 10 ICC probes since 2002 when the court was established, nine have been into African countries and one into Georgia, although most ICC cases have been referred to the court by African governments themselves.