On Thursday, the African Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA), a group of African legal and rights experts, asked the leaders of South Africa, Burundi and Gambia to reconsider plans to pull out of the International Criminal Court.
The African group consists of lawyers, prosecutors, judges, academics and human rights activists and it was set up a year ago to improve relations between the international court and Africa’s leaders. In their call for reconsideration, they told African leaders to “reconsider and recommit themselves to the Rome Statute.”
The Rome Statute is the treaty on which the ICC was established. South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia have in the past days announced their country’s intentions to pull out of the court and in the case of SA and Burundi, the process has already been set in motion.
One AGJA member, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, who was a former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and, like the ICC’s current chief prosecutor, a Gambian national, said;
“Withdrawals from the ICC constitute a serious obstacle to the rights of victims to justice and the duty of states to ensure accountability for mass atrocities. They close an important recourse to justice and undermine the global fight against impunity.”
The African group also made reference to countries like Botswana and Senegal who have voiced concern at the announced withdrawals. The group is not the first to comment on the withdrawal announcements, United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has voiced out his hope that South Africa will reconsider leaving the court.
A Quartz article titled; ‘The African leaders leaving the International Criminal Court actually have a chance to fix it’, opines that rather than leaving the court, African leaders can come together to reform it with the consideration that the ICC is actually one of the few places where victims of genocide, atrocities, war crimes and other aggressions can take their case.