Africa’s queue to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) just got longer as Gambia joined in. The government of Gambia announced on Tuesday that it was withdrawing from the ICC.
South Africa and Burundi had already made similar announcements about withdrawing from the ICC and SA had even gone ahead to set the ICC withdrawal process in motion while Burundi was still seeking approval from its parliament, which it has since gotten.
Gambia’s government, while withdrawing from the ICC, is accusing the ICC of ignoring the “war crimes” of Western nations and seeking only to prosecute Africans. Gambia’s President, Yahya Jammeh, has formerly called on the court to investigate African migrant deaths on the Mediterranean.
The Information Minister Sheriff Bojang, who made the announcement on State television, said;
“This action is warranted by the fact that the ICC, despite being called the International Criminal Court, is in fact an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans.”
It is an old fight for the ICC; defending the integrity of the court, which has been questioned severally by various countries in Africa, on the grounds that they do not have a neo-colonial agenda in Africa.
The statement from Gambia concerning its withdrawal from the ICC said that the country had sought to bring the European Union before the ICC over the deaths of migrants but received no response. Part of the statement read;
“There are many Western countries, at least 30, that have committed heinous war crimes against independent sovereign states and their citizens since the creation of the ICC and not a single Western war criminal has been indicted.”
Fatou Bensouda, the ICC’s current chief prosecutor, is from Gambia and formerly served as an adviser to Jammeh in the early years of his rule after he seized power in a coup in 1994. She also held the position of justice minister in the country for a period of time.
This will not be the first time President Yahya Jammeh has pulled his country out of an international institution on the grounds of the institution having a neo-colonial agenda. In 2013, he withdrew Gambia from the Commonwealth.