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Burundi becomes first country to leave ICC

By Tom Mugisha, tom.mugisha@alleastafrica.com

BUJUMBURA – Burundi has withdrawn from the International Criminal Court in a move that the Amnesty International has called ‘cynical’.

An ICC spokesman confirmed that the pullout took effect on Friday, a year after the East African nation announced its plan to leave prosecutes the world’s worst atrocities.

The Amnesty International’s Head of International Justice Matt Cannock said in a statement that the withdrawal from the Court won’t derail efforts to have justice for victims of violence in Burundi.

 “The Burundian government has made a cynical attempt to evade justice by taking the unprecedented step of withdrawing from the ICC. But perpetrators, including members of the security forces, cannot so easily shirk their alleged responsibility for crimes under international law committed since 2015,” he said.

Hundreds of people have been since 2015 violence following a failed coup attempt by a section of the army. Cannock said the withdrawal won’t absolve Burundi of its obligation to end the ongoing human rights violations.

 “The ICC can continue its preliminary investigations regardless of Burundi’s efforts to stop its work by withdrawing from the Court. Even if President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government will not cooperate with the Court, the ICC has ways and means to investigate and prosecute the crimes committed.”

Burundi accused the ICC of deliberately targeting Africans for prosecution. In September, the UN Commission of Inquiry into Burundi accused the government of committing crimes against humanity, including executions and torture, and urged the ICC to open a prosecution as soon as possible.

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