Burundi has officially notified the United Nations (UN) of its decision to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC), becoming the second African country behind South Africa to present their withdrawal notice to the UN.
Even though the UN has yet to confirm receipt of the notice sent to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a Burundian official said that the document had been formally submitted.
“An official document announcing Burundi’s move to quit the International Criminal Court was sent to Ban Ki-moon,” Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Joseph Bangurambona said.
Another ministry source said the withdrawal document was dated October 19, a day after President Pierre Nkurunziza signed a decree to that effect. He signed after the parliament okayed a cabinet position to exit the body.
Presidential spokesperson on media, Willy Nyamitwe also hinted on twitter that a government delegation was sent to New York purposefully to serve notice of the withdrawal.
Burundi’s current move adds momentum to mounting African opposition to the Hague-based tribunal. African states have long complained the ICC is biased, prosecuting Africans while ignoring others.
Besides Burundi and South Africa, the Gambia also said withdrew, blaming the court of bias against Africans.
South Africa’s letter informing the UN chief of its decision to withdraw was also dated October 19. They argued that the ICC’s Rome Statutes were at odds with its laws granting leaders diplomatic immunity.
The ICC said in April it would investigate outbreaks of violence in Burundi, which has been mired in a political crisis for more than a year. The United Nations, Western powers and rights groups have criticised the government for the way it has handled the unrest and have accused it of rights abuses. The government denies this.