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Queries as Burundi Moves to Exit ICC

Burundi MPs have moved swiftly to end the nation’s membership to the International Criminal Court (ICC), click just days after UN officials warned of a potential genocide in the war-torn country.

94 out of 110 MPs on Wednesday voted for Burundi’s withdrawal from the international court. This vote was backed by the Senate.

If President Pierre Nkurunziza endorses the Parliament’s vote, Burundi is required to write to the UN Secretary General explaining its intentions.

One year after receipt of the letter at UN, Burundi will have ended its membership with ICC.

If this move succeeds, Burundi will be the first country to exit the controversial court.

African leaders have previously accused ICC of targeting Africa and being used as a tool by the West to serve its own ends.

Only Africans are facing trial at ICC, a situation that has left many wondering whether crimes are not committed in other countries.

However, the timing of Burundi’s withdrawal from ICC is suspicious considering that the court recently announced plans to investigate crimes against humanity in the country.


Burundi was thrown into crisis more than a year ago when President Nkurunziza decided to run for a controversial third term that he went on to win.

Widespread killings

To date, it has been reported that hundreds of people have been killed, more than 240,000 have fled the nation, and thousands more have been arrested and possibly subjected to human rights violations.

The final report of an independent United Nations investigation in Burundi, released Sept. 20, describes “abundant evidence of gross human rights violations,” possibly amounting to crimes against humanity, by the Government of Burundi and people associated with it.

The findings of the experts “suggest widespread and systemic patterns of violations,” which, added to the country’s history of inter-ethnic violence and impunity, and the danger of a spiral of mass violence.

Noting the Burundian Government’s “blanket denial” of almost all alleged human rights violations and the difficulty of precisely quantifying all the violations that have taken place, and may continue to take place, in a “situation as closed and repressive as Burundi,” the experts documented hundreds of cases of summary executions, targeted assassinations, arbitrary detention, torture and sexual violence.

Executions have been committed on a large scale by the security forces, often supported by the ruling party’s youth wing, known as the Imbonerakure, the report says, adding that the majority of the victims were opposed, or perceived to be opposed, to the third mandate of President Nkurunziza.

The report cites the testimony of a former senior officer of the National Defence Force, who confirmed the existence of several lists of people to be eliminated by security forces, and notes the widespread reports of mass graves.

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court yesterday warned that Burundi’s withdrawal from ICC means, “The voices of victims are being lost.”

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