Burundi: ICC withdrawal must not block justice for crisis abuses
The Burundian parliamentary vote today endorsing a withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) is part of the government’s continued effort to deny justice for victims of human rights violations committed since the crisis began in April 2015, said Amnesty International today.
“This vote, at a time when the ICC is examining allegations of crimes committed in Burundi, highlights the government’s unwillingness to deliver justice for victims,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“Burundi’s on-going attempts to hinder cooperation with human rights bodies and international justice mechanisms are deeply troubling and an added injustice to victims that must end. Interventions by international and regional bodies should be seen as opportunity rather than a threat.”
The vote was supported by 94 out of 110 members of the national assembly, after receiving cabinet approval, and was unanimously adopted by the Senate the same day. It now requires presidential assent to become law. However, even if the government triggers the official withdrawal process, the ICC’s current preliminary examination into crimes committed in Burundi can and must continue.
This week three independent UN and African Union experts were declared unwelcome in the country. The government also suspended cooperation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the country.
Burundi’s current crisis began in early 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term, a move seen by many as a violation of the Constitution. According to the UN, at least 564 people have been killed and more than 300,000 have fled the country, most of them to refugee camps in neighbouring Rwanda and Tanzania.