Sensing that its senior officials were about to be dragged to the Hague to face possible charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, the Burundi government has abruptly announced that it was preparing to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The country’s national assembly is currently studying a draft law, which if enacted, will pave the way for the country’s withdrawal from the Statute of Rome, a treaty that created the ICC in 2002.
More than 30 000 people have been killed in the past two years, over 3 000 disappeared, including a prominent journalist, and over 250 000 are believed to have fled their homes, after President Pierre Nkurunziza let his violent dogs out to crush anyone who opposed his ambition to seek an unconstitutional third-term in office.
Several opposition leaders and political activists have been assassinated or tortured, others jailed, while many have gone into exile abroad.
A United Nations investigation has uncovered hundreds of cases of massive human rights violations, and the ICC was about to launch an investigation into the post-electoral violence when the government said it would no longer be part of the Netherlands-based international legal platform.
A total of 34 African countries – out of 122 worldwide – have signed the Statute of Rome, but many African dictators have threatened to withdraw their countries from the court.
Some critics accuse the ICC of serving as a West-manipulated platform that only targets African leaders, an allegation the ICC denies.
Photo: The International Criminal Court in the Hague, the Netherlands