On 12 October 2016, the Parliament of the Republic of Burundi voted in support of withdrawal of its country from (International Criminal Court)ICC. The decision is connected to escalation of Human Rights violations engendered by ‘third term in office’ ambition of President Pierre Nkurunziza. South Africa, recently announced its decision to withdraw from ICC claiming ICC shows “contempt for the continent.” Gambia too, has indicated its intention to withdraw from ICC accusing it of racism.
ICC is an international tribunal set up to bring individuals accused of genocide, torture, war crimes, the crime of aggression and crimes against humanity to trial. Charles Taylor, a former president of Liberia was convicted on 11 count charges of aiding and abetting war crimes in Sierra Leone. He was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment in 2012.
We suggest that Gambia, Burundi and South Africa re-consider their withdrawal and take their grievances to African Union. The Union is currently engaging ICC and the Security Council on some concerns of African leaders on ICC.
Gambia is angry over its unsuccessful effort to punish European Union through ICC for deaths of African youth crossing the sea to Europe. South Africa is piqued by ICC disrespect for diplomatic immunity of African leader by insisting that it arrest Omar Bashur during AU meeting in South Africa. These are matters that could be handled by AU. 
The accusation of judicial imperialism and racism leveled against ICC by some African leaders are unfounded. It is true that 9 out of 10 cases being investigated by ICC are from Africa. The question we must ask ourselves are: are there evidence that such atrocities happened? Where those atrocities committed by Africans? If the answers are in the affirmative, why do we quarrel over punishing the culprits and jeopardize the struggle for accountability, rule of law and an impunity-free Africa. It is like demonizing a new-born just because the midwife is a witch.
Besides, matters are referred to ICC by States Parties or by the UNSC, or on its own initiative and with the judges’ authorization. The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) conducts investigations by gathering and examining evidence, questioning persons under investigation and questioning victims and witnesses, for the purpose of finding evidence of a suspect’s innocence or guilt.
Some may argue that the west should not interfere in African Human Rights issues since no African country can bring them to account for Rights violation perpetrated by them. The simple answer to that is: states have obligations toward individuals within the wider community beyond their supposed sovereign realm. As human beings what affects one of us should concern the rest of us.
Moreover, the ICC, according to the Rome Statute, is complementary to national jurisdictions. According Article 17 of the Statute; issues are not admissible if national authorities are dealing with the case. However, the case could be referred to ICC if the State authorities are either unwilling or unable to carry out fair proceedings.
The reasons for the complementary system are: 1) It protects the accused if they have been prosecuted before national courts. 2) It respects national sovereignty in the exercise of criminal jurisdiction. 3) It might promote greater efficiency because the ICC cannot deal with all cases of serious crimes. 4) It puts the onus on states to do their duty under international and national law to investigate and prosecute alleged serious crimes (that is, it is not just a matter of efficiency but a matter of law, policy, and morality. 5) it encourages national authorities to develop their legal systems.
The African leaders afraid of ICC are mostly those having issues of Human Rights violations in their hands. In a continent where the governments disobey court orders, the persons in office must bear in mind that a day of reckoning shall come if Rights are abused in large scale.
One-third of ICC members are in Africa. The exit of Gambia, Burundi and South Africa may open the way for other African country to withdraw. However, their withdrawal may send a strong message to the Security Council to address the concern of African leaders; and may also encourage Rights abusers to carry on their despicable actions. It is advocated that referrals from the biased Security Council should be reviewed.  Those African countries heading the exit doors of ICC should re-considered withdrawing their membership of ICC.




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