By Samantha Netzband
Impunity Watch, Africa Desk Reporter
BANJUL, The Gambia–The Gambia has committed to rejoining the International Criminal Court. The country formally recanted its original withdrawal from the International Criminal Court in a letter to the United Nations on February 10, 2017. This decision comes after the inauguration of newly elected President Adama Barrow.
Judges at the International Criminal Court. (Photo Courtesy of ENCA)
The Gambia’s recant of withdrawal leaves two African countries as outliers who are still pursuing withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. Burundi and South Africa are still hoping to withdrawal from the court. Both countries have unique reasons why they are trying to withdraw from the court, but one critique of the court has been that only African leaders have been held accountable through the courts justice mechanisms. However, many of the individuals who have been held accountable were self referrals to the court from their country of origin.
The Gambia’s withdrawal has quelled concerns regarding the uncertainty of the International Criminal Court. While there has been criticism of the courts jurisdiction, overall the court is the only of its kind that holds people accountable for international crimes. Secretary General Antonio Guterres applauded the Gambia’s decision to stay: ‘‘The Secretary-General welcomes that The Gambia will remain a State Party to the International Criminal Court’s founding instrument, and remains confident that States Parties will continue to further strengthen the Court through a constructive dialogue.’‘ Clément Capo-Chichi, the Africa Coordinator for the Coalition for the ICC (CICC), a global NGO network, said the “decision to reverse withdrawal from the ICC is a crucial development for victims of grave crimes and the rule of law”. For now the Gambia has helped quell fears of a collapse of the International Criminal Court, but whether or not this stability will continue remains to be seen.
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