Burundi to withdraw membership from ICC
Burundi to withdraw membership from ICC

Vice President Gaston Sindimwo of Burundi on Thursday announced the country’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], stating that his government is “ready to face the consequences.” This decision comes in the wake of the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [official profile] announcing six months ago [JURIST report] that she plans to investigate the ongoing violence in Burundi—an announcement viewed by Burundi as a threat to its sovereignty. Sindimwo stated that his government thought it necessary to withdraw from ICC [RTNB report] so that his government and its people can “really be free.”

Burundi has been under the radar of the ICC, rights organizations, and the international community for quite some time now. Violence in Burundi began in the wake of President Pierre Nkurunziza [BBC profile] announcing that he would seek a third term of office, to which he was elected [JURIST report] last year. Last month the UN Independent Investigation in Burundi [official website] stated [JURIST report] that it found “abundant evidence of gross human rights violations,” which it believes could amount to crimes against humanity by the government of Burundi and people associated with it. In March UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] expressed concern over increased violence and rights violations in Burundi and called for an “inclusive political dialogue” [JURIST report] to end the ongoing struggle. Speaking to the council about his trip to Burundi last month, the secretary-general stated, “I cannot stress enough the profound humanitarian consequences that political unrest, violence and impunity carry for the population.” Last November the UN Security Council unanimously adopted [JURIST report] a resolution condemning the political violence and killings currently afflicting Burundi.