AGJA notes concern and urges engagement with African states withdrawing from the ICC

The Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA) notes with deep concern the continued reports of African states withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC).  In recent days, Burundi, South Africa and The Gambia have all signalled their intention to  withdraw. 

While the AGJA respects the sovereign rights of states to join and withdraw from the ICC, it  urges all states to work within the Rome Statute system and continue their support for the  Court. 

African states have been at the vanguard of international criminal justice, and were indeed  critical in ensuring that the ICC became a reality. Their efforts and their commitment are  needed more than ever today. The AGJA welcomes the initiative of a growing number of  states, including Botswana and Senegal, which have expressed their concern regarding South  Africa’s and Burundi’s intention to withdraw from the ICC and have encouraged states to  remain committed to the Court. 

The AGJA notes that The Gambia has made important contributions to the development of  international criminal justice. Fatou Bensouda, the current Prosecutor of the ICC, is a  Gambian national. Africa Group member Hassan Bubacar Jallow, formerly Chief Prosecutor  of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Residual Mechanism for  International Criminal Tribunals, also hails from The Gambia. 

The AGJA calls on The Gambia and all other states considering withdrawal to reconsider and  recommit themselves to the Rome Statute. 

“Withdrawals from the ICC constitute a serious obstacle to the rights of victims to justice and  the duty of states to ensure accountability for mass atrocities. They close an important  recourse to justice and undermine the global fight against impunity,” said AGJA member  Jallow. “All efforts should be deployed to encourage states to remain members of the ICC  and resolve their concerns within the Rome Statute system,” he added. 

The Africa Group reiterates its view that concerns held by states regarding the ICC should be  addressed by the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), where Member States can work together in a co-operative spirit to build a strong, effective and representative Court. The ASP will meet  from 16-24 November 2016 in The Hague. 

In line with its Kilimanjaro Principles for Justice and Accountability, the AGJA continues to  offer its expertise, mediation and facilitation to African states, the African Union, the ICC and  all other relevant actors.

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