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Gambia the latest to withdraw from International Criminal Court

Gambia has announced its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, accusing the Hague-based tribunal of the "persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans".


The decision by the West African nation, whose President Yahya Jammeh has called on the court to investigate African migrant deaths on the Mediterranean, comes just days after South Africa said it was quitting The Hague-based tribunal.

The announcement late Tuesday comes after similar decisions this month by SA and Burundi to abandon the troubled institution, set up to try the world’s worst crimes.

Information Minister Sheriff Bojang said on state television that the court had been used "for the persecution of Africans and especially their leaders" while ignoring crimes committed by the West.

He singled out the case of former British prime minister Tony Blair, whom the ICC decided not to indict over the Iraq war.

"There are many Western countries, at least 30, that have committed heinous war crimes against independent sovereign states and their citizens since the creation of the ICC and not a single Western war criminal has been indicted."

The withdrawal, he said, "is warranted by the fact that the ICC, despite being called International Criminal Court, is in fact an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans".

It is not the first time Mr Jammeh has pulled his country out of an international institution.

In 2013, he withdrew Gambia from the Commonwealth — the 54-member grouping including Britain and most of its former colonies — branding it a "neo-colonial institution".

Rights groups accuse Mr Jammeh of cracking down on political opponents as he eyes a December election, where he will seek his fifth term after he scrapped term limits.

The ICC, set up in 2002, is often accused of bias against Africa and has also struggled with a lack of cooperation, including from the US, which has signed the court’s treaty but never ratified it.

Gambia has been trying without success to use the court to punish the European Union for deaths of thousands of African migrants trying to reach its shores.

The decision will also come as a personal blow to the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, a former Gambian justice minister.

Namibia and Kenya have also raised the possibility of leaving ICC.

The tribunal is tasked with "prosecuting the most serious crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression".

Jimirasire

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