Gambia has announced that it would leave the International Criminal Court amid fears mass pullout from the body. It becomes the third country to withdraw from the body that pursues some of the world’s worst atrocities.
Gambia accused the court of unfairly targeting Africa and calling it the “International Caucasian Court”. It is however striking, with the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, being Gambian.
The information minister of the West African country, Sheriff Baba Bojang, the court is involved in “the persecution of Africans, and especially their leaders.”
He accused “at least 30” Western countries of having committed war crimes against their citizens since the ICC was founded more than a decade ago and said none has been targeted by the court.
The minister said Gambia has begun the process of withdrawing from the ICC. This involves notifying the U.N. secretary-general and takes effect a year after the notification is received.
Rights groups often accuse Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, of abuses including a clampdown on political opponents. The next presidential election is in December.
Gambia Three, More To Go
The move comes after South Africa announced they would leave the court. Burundi has also started making moves towards withdrawal from the market.
Officials with other top African critics of the court, including Uganda and Kenya, have said they have not yet decided whether to leave the ICC as well. Uganda said it will be a “hot topic” at an African Union meeting in January.
Six ongoing ICC cases are in Africa, though preliminary ICC investigations have opened elsewhere.