ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told reporters that the International Criminal Court will see more challenges and accusations forwarded by some African states will continue.
“We must remain strong,” she said this week in The Hague. “This is a challenge we see now. We will see it more. It is not going to go away.”
African leaders now accusing the world tribunal of racial bias were instrumental in Bensouda’s bid to become the Chief Prosecutor of the court. She was the Attorney General and Minister of Justice for mainland Africa’s smallest country The Gambia.
The Gambia is one of the three African nations that said this week they would be leaving the ICC.
Burundi has notified UN Secretary General of its withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that gave birth to the International Criminal Court. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said the withdrawal of Burundi, The Gambia, and South Africa would be a mistake, urging the three nations to stay and make reforms from within.
An anonymous official of the court told Reuters that even if half the African countries leave, it would be very unfortunate and damaging to the concept of international justice, but it won’t shut the court down.
“This was bound to happen when dictators – for the most part that’s what they are – decide to run for cover,” the official said.
Kenya is likely to follow suit but South Africa’s withdrawal has already emboldened other African states to leave the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal.
The case relating to Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta over electoral violence, in which at least 1,200 people died collapsed in 2014 because of lack of evidence and intimidation of witnesses.
Kenyatta said the ICC is pursuing weak, political cases that have become a distraction “to serve the people and the continent fully.” Kenya’s parliament has passed resolutions in 2010 and 2013 to withdraw from the ICC and the government spokesperson said that it is accurate to say that a decision to withdraw is pending.
Uganda is hoping that all African nations withdraw from the Rome Statute. Its president, Yoweri Museveni called the tribunal “a bunch of useless people” in his inaugural speech and ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s native Gambia’s government called the tribunal an “International Caucasian Court.”
Many of the cases at the ICC were referred to the court by African nations.