Africa

The Gambia joins African queue to leave ICC

  • 26 October 2016
  • From the section Africa
President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia attends the 44th summit of the 15-nation west African bloc ECOWAS at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Foundation in Yamoussoukro on March 28, 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Yahya Jammeh has ruled Gambia since 1994

The Gambia says it will pull of the International Criminal Court (ICC) after accusing the tribunal of persecuting and humiliating Africans.

The small West African nation joins South Africa and Burundi in withdrawing from the court.

The ICC was set up to try the world's worst crimes but has been accused of unfairly targeting African leaders.

Gambian Information Minister Sheriff Bojang said the court had ignored Western war crimes.

He said the ICC, for example, had failed to indict former British Prime Minister Tony Blair over the Iraq war.

Speaking on state television, he said the ICC was "an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans".

The ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is a former Gambian justice minister.

President Yahya Jammeh has ruled The Gambia since taking power in a coup in 1994.

Elections are due in December, but opposition leader Ousainou Darboe and 18 others were jailed for three years earlier this year over an unauthorised protest.

The country has been unsuccessfully trying to have the European Union indicted by the court over the deaths of thousands of African migrants trying to reach the continent by boat.


The ICC and global justice:

  • Came into force in 2002
  • The Rome Statute that set it up has been ratified by 123 countries, but the US is a notable absence
  • It aims to prosecute and bring to justice those responsible for the worst crimes - genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes
  • In the court's 14-year history it has only brought charges against Africans.

What is the International Criminal Court?


South Africa said last week that it had formally begun the process of withdrawing from the ICC because it did not want to execute arrest warrants which would lead to "regime change".

Last year, a South African court criticised the government for refusing to arrest Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the court.

Burundi has also said it will leave the court, while other Africa countries like Kenya and Namibia have said they might.

All but one of the ICC's 10 investigations have been Africa-based.

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