The government of Gambia announced on Tuesday (October 25, 2016) its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing the Hague-based tribunal of “persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans while blatantly ignoring the other war crimes”.
The ICC was set up in 2002 and is often accused of bias against Africa and has also struggled with a lack of cooperation, including from the US, which has signed the ICC treaty (also known as Rome Statute) but never ratified it. The tribunal is entrusted with “prosecuting the most serious crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression”.
The withdrawal is warranted by the fact that the ICC, despite being called International Criminal Court, is in fact an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans.
– Sheriff Bojang, the Information Minister of Gambia
“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,” Minister Bojang said in a statement on the national TV, and singled out the case of Tony Blair, former British prime minister, who the ICC decided not to indict over the Iraq war.
The decision will also come as a personal blow to the current chief prosecutor of ICC, Ms. Fatou Bensouda, who was in fact the former justice minister of Gambia.
The ICC did not responded to the withdrawal yet; although coming so soon after South Africa’s announcement, Gambia’s move added to pressure on the world’s first permanent war crimes court. The Court has had to fight off allegations of pursuing a neo-colonial agenda in Africa, where all but one of its 10 investigations have been based.