UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday welcomed The Gambia’s decision to remain in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. According to a statement [text] Guterres issued through a spokesperson, he “welcomes that The Gambia will remain a State Party to the International Criminal Court’s founding instrument.” The statement went on [UN News Centre report] to note that The Gambia played a major role in the establishment of the Rome Statute [statute, PDF]—setting out the court’s jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes—and was one of its first signatories, and that over the past decades the globe has made significant strides to international justice with the ICC at its heart.
Under former president Yahya Jammeh, The Gambia was the third country that had announced plans to leave the ICC or had actually done so within the last several years [JURIST report]. However, earlier this month current President Adama Barrow confirmed [JURIST report] through a top EU official that The Gambia will remain in the ICC. In October South Africa and Burundi [JURIST reports] similarly announced their withdrawal from the ICC. The South African government originally expressed [Reuters report] such intentions in 2015 when the nation refused to act on the ICC’s arrest warrant for visiting Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The nation’s Justice Minister stated that the country’s ICC membership conflicts with South Africa’s Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act (DIPA) [text, PDF]. Vice President Gaston Sindimwo of Burundi previously announced the country’s decision to withdraw from the ICC amid criticism the court only prosecutes African nationals.