President Yahya Jammeh has been ruling Gambia since 1994
President Yahya Jammeh has been ruling Gambia since 1994

(JollofNews) – Amnesty International has expressed dissapointment with the Gambia’s decision to withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The rights group described the Gambia’s decision as a blow to victims around the world.

The government of Gambia on Tuesday announced that it was withdrawing from the ICC, accusing the world body of ignoring the “war crimes” of Western nations and seeking only to prosecute Africans.

“This action is warranted by the fact that the ICC, despite being called the International Criminal Court, is in fact an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans,” Information Minister Sheriff Bojang said on state television.

But Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa said: “The announcement is a blow to millions of victims around the world, particularly coming as it does on the heels of recent moves by South Africa and Burundi to also withdraw from the ICC”.

“Rather than joining this drastic march away from justice, other African states should follow the lead of Botswana and many concerned African member states which have encouraged countries to work constructively with the Court to resolve any legitimate issues.”

Sheriff Bojang
Sheriff Bojang, Information Minister

“The Information Minister’s statement regarding the Court’s persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans could not be further from the truth. For many Africans the ICC presents the only avenue for justice for the crimes they have suffered.

“Gambia’s announcement is particularly shocking given that the ICC’s Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is herself Gambian and a champion of international justice and the fight against global impunity.”

It is not clear at present whether or not the Gambian government has taken steps towards a formal withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the ICC. Withdrawal would not take effect for one year following any formal notification to the United Nations, and Gambia cannot avoid its current responsibilities under international law by withdrawing from the Statute.