Burundi’s president signs decree for country to quit ICC

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza signed a decree on Tuesday for the country to quit the International Criminal Court, after parliament voted overwhelmingly last week to withdraw.

The letter, published in the presidency’s website, said the decision would “come into immediate effect,” Reuters reported.

The International Criminal Court had earlier expressed concerns over Burundi’s parliamentary vote last week to leave the world court, calling it “a setback in the fight against impunity,” the court’s governing body said on Tuesday.

Burundi’s parliament voted overwhelmingly on Oct. 12 to withdraw from Rome Statute, the 1998 treaty establishing the global court, which would make it the first country to quit.

The head of the ICC’s governing body, Sidiki Kaba, said he was concerned that would undermine “efforts towards the objective of universality” and called on Burundi to “engage in a dialogue.”

The ICC, which opened in July 2002 and has 124 member states, is the first legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

But several African countries have expressed concern that its focus has been on Africa rather than anywhere else in the world.

The ICC opened a preliminary investigation in April into Burundi, looking into killings, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as enforced disappearances.

Burundi’s parliamentary vote will go into force one year after it has submitted a formal withdrawal notification to the United Nations. The country would still be required to cooperate with any ongoing cases before the court.