The National Assembly of Burundi [official site, in French] on Wednesday voted [press release, in French] to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official site] amid criticism the court only prosecutes African nationals. Lawmakers voted [Aljazeera report] 94 in favor, with two against, and fourteen abstaining. The move to withdraw comes on the heels of an investigation [Reuters report] by the ICC into how the government interacts with those who are in political opposition to President Pierre Nkurunziza [official profile]. Despite withdrawing from the ICC, the measure does not prohibit [AI press release] the ICC from continuing their investigation into the country’s alleged human rights abuses. The law will now go before the President and, once signed, the country will become the first to leave the ICC.
Last week, Vice President Gaston Sindimwo of Burundi announced [JURIST report] the country’s decision to withdraw from the ICC, stating that his government is “ready to face the consequences.” The UN Independent Investigation in Burundi (UNIIB) in September stated [JURIST report] their grave concern about the current human rights situation in Burundi. Three human rights experts from UNIIB in June echoed previous calls for a stop to violence [JURIST report] after their second visit to the country.