(JollofNews) – Fellow Gambians, I have learned with disappointment that the Government of the Gambia has announced its withdrawal from the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court on 25 October 2016.
After 51 years of independence and the end of colonialism, I found it utterly unacceptable that an independent government of a sovereign republic such as the Republic of the Gambia will have leadership that continues to lament on colonialism.
The statement by the Government clearly shows the lack of understanding of international relations and the way global institutions operate. Yet while the Gambia government accuses the ICC and western nations of bias, it was the government of Yahya Jammeh that has signed a bilateral immunity agreement with the Government of the United States in 2002 not to take US citizens before the court. How now could the same Government accuse the West of bias and double standards when the Gambian Government is in fact engaged in the same practice.
Fellow Gambians the removal of the Gambia from the ICC, just like the withdrawal from the Commonwealth in 2013 is an unconstitutional act that reflects once more President Jammeh’s disregard for the constitution and the laws of the Gambia.
The ICC was created in 2002 by the international community including the Gambia to investigate and prosecute individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the world. These are genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The court, therefore, is a significant and an unprecedented contribution in the global fight to end impunity by holding those responsible accountable for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again. Thus to imagine any well-meaning government will withdraw from such noble objectives clearly shows that such a government should not continue lead a decent and civilized people. By withdrawing from the ICC, the regime of Yahya Jammeh has threatened national interest and national security.
I wish to therefore completely disassociate myself and all decent and civilized Gambians from this ill-conceived decision which only serves to isolate further and ridicule our country in the eyes of the world. I wish to urge the Government of the Gambia under the leadership of Yahya Jammeh to immediately rescind this decision and restore the Gambia’s position within the states parties of the ICC.
At a time when mass atrocities in the form of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are major occurrences in Africa, it is unacceptable that any government would seek to remove itself from any institution and processes designed to put a stop to mass atrocities. This is even more poignant given that all throughout Africa, the legal and juridical systems have not yet been developed enough to bring perpetrators to account.
Hence this decision by the government is not only a demonstration of the government’s lack of commitments to wards our obligations to international human rights laws and norms. But this decision demonstrates governments severe disregard for the millions of victims of mass atrocities in Africa. I wish to urge President Jammeh to rather put a definite halt to incidents of enforced disappearances, murder under police custody, arbitrary arrests, detention, and torture that are prevalent in the country under a general climate of fear and impunity.
I urge all Gambians to declare that this unacceptable decision is not in our name.
by Dr Isatou Touray
Dr Isatou Touray is an independent candidate who is challenging President Yahya Jammeh in the December 2016 elections