The Spokesperson for the International Criminal Court has denied reports that the office of the prosecutor has asked her team to assess the situation in The Gambia after rare opposition protests turned violent in the West African nation in April and May.
“To the best of my knowledge, there has been no preliminary investigation or assessment in The Gambia, but we have one for Burundi to decide if we are going to open an investigation or not. So currently there is no preliminary examination with regards to The Gambia,” said Fadi El-Abdullah.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told a reporter from The Guardian that “she has asked her team to assess the situation” in The Gambia after UN said at least two people have died in the run-up to the country’s December presidential polls.
The riot police used excessive force and opened fire on peaceful opposition protesters.
Criticism has tripled down on Bensouda for not taking “adequate action” to address the deteriorating rights conditions in her native Gambia, where she served as Attorney General and Minister of Justice under President Yahya Jammeh.
Rights watchdogs and the UN accuse Jammeh of arbitrary detention, torture, and extra-judicial execution of political opponents, pro-democracy campaigners, dissidents, and journalists.
The woman who haunts tyrants said The Gambia has not met the threshold and El-Abdullah said the measurement of the threshold is a rather complicated one and is determined on a case by case basis.
The Gambia is among three African nations that have so far made public their plans to withdraw from the court. It will no longer be a member of the court as of November next year but still has an option to cancel its withdrawal before then.
The Gambia has jailed at least 30 opposition members ahead of the country’s December presidential run-up. Many are said to be tortured and denied medical care.
(Reporting and Writing by Sainey MK Marenah; Additional Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Editing by Sam Phatey)