Burundi lawmakers vote to withdraw from International Criminal Court

Members of Burundi's lower house of Parliament
Members of Burundi’s lower house of Parliament raise their arms on October 12, 2016 in Bujumbura to vote for the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. AFP PHOTO

Burundi’s lower house of Parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This is after the UN began an enquiry into human rights abuses in the turbulent nation.

The draft law was passed with 94 votes in favour, two against and 14 abstentions. It will next go to the Senate — also dominated by the ruling party — before being approved by President Pierre Nkurunziza.

In April, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she was conducting a “preliminary examination” of the situation in Burundi — the first step towards a full investigation and possible prosecutions — looking into allegations including murder, torture, rape and forced disappearances.

And two weeks ago the United Nations launched a high-level probe into rights violations in Burundi after a report warned of possible “crimes against humanity” and the risk of genocide.

“It is perfectly clear that this is a plot to do harm to Burundi,” Gaston Sindimwo, Burundi’s vice-president, said last week, referring to the investigations.

Burundi’s move to leave the Netherlands-based court also comes amid rising resentment in Africa against the ICC, which leaders accuse of targeting only countries on the continent.#whyassadisnotaticc


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