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Burundi first country to leave the International Criminal Court

Did you know that Burundi is the First Nation ever  to leave the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal, set up some 15 years ago to prosecute those behind the worst atrocities on the planet?

It is not news that for some time now many African countries have argued that The Hague based court is biased to African Countries. The ICC on its part denies the allegation, insisting it is pursuing justice for victims of war crimes in Africa.

An ICC spokesman confirmed that the pullout takes effect Friday, a year after the East African nation notified the United Nations secretary-general of its intention to leave the court that prosecutes the world’s worst atrocities.

Burundi is the only one of three African nations to go ahead with its withdrawal after making moves last year to leave amid accusations that the court focuses too much on the continent.

South Africa’s withdrawal was revoked in March. Gambia’s new government reversed its withdrawal in February.

In February the African Union called for the mass withdrawal of member states from the International Criminal Court (ICC) following a divisive debate at its annual heads of state of summit in Addis Ababa.

However, the resolution was non-binding, with Nigeria and Senegal opposing a withdrawal.

Thousands of Burundians on Saturday answered the government’s call to celebrate the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, cheering the “historic” day using slogans such as “bye bye ICC”.

Burundi mediator Edouard Nduwimana called on the demonstrators “to pray for other African countries so they can follow Burundi’s example”.

According to Amnesty International’s Head of International Justice Matt Cannock “withdrawal from the Rome Statute does not in any way absolve Burundi of its obligations to end ongoing widespread human rights violations.”

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