The Gambian announcement to pull out from the International Criminal Court (ICC) has sparked torrent of reactions from around the world. The decision was greeted with shock and dismay by prominent opposition figures, rights activists, but has ignited enthusiasm in some quarters.

“I think it is not a good option to quit the ICC,” RADDHO Secretary General Aboubacry Mbodji told this reporter.

mai-fatty-12Information Minister Sheriff Bojang has revealed late Tuesday Gambia government resolve to leave the Hague based court and used the occasion to brand the organisation as the ‘International Caucasian Court’ for the “persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans.” Gambia is the third African country that has ‘notified’ ICC over its plan to quit.

Acknowledging the fact that ICC has been faced with obstacles, problems and challenges, Mbodji pointed out that there is still room for improvement. “Change happens inside out and not the other way around,” he emphasized.

The Head of the Dakar-based human rights watchdog made it clear that leaving the ICC does not absolve anyone of any crime committed. “United Nations Security Council can still approve resolution referring cases of gross human rights violations to the ICC Prosecutor.”

Lawyer Mai Ahmad Fatty of the opposition Gambia Moral Congress (GMC), who spoke to this reporter, seized the opportunity to reiterate the importance for the international community to uphold the pursuit and prosecution of those guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“Most importantly, its enforcement processes and procedures should equally evince both transparency and equity,” he said.

The GMC leader has also made mention of the ‘‘serious concerns voiced by many countries’’ about ICC since its inception. “Those concerns remained largely ignored. It is a fact that few powerful countries who have been found guilty beyond shadow of doubt, of having committed war crimes, and continue to do so, rendered themselves immune to international justice.’’

Lawyer Fatty warned against what he termed as ‘international impunity’ for perpetrators of heinous crimes. “The enforcement of selective justice will continue to grant pretexts to those afraid of international justice.”

GMC’s Mai Ahmad Fatty described as ‘unwise’ the move taken by some African to quit the ICC despite having reasonable concerns. “As the largest bloc within the ICC, other stakeholders should engage Africa on its long standing concerns with a view to enthroning equity in the entire international criminal justice system. I would like to see Africa take a leading role in the fight against impunity.”

Samsudeen-Sarr--700x755For his part, Gambia deputy Rep. at UN Samsudeen Sarr  said the controversy surrounding the withdrawal of African states from the ICC heralds a fresh debate about the reluctance of some Western countries like USA to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC.

He cited the war in Iraq which was carried out under a ‘false pretext.’ “Over 1 million people died in the war.  I believe if the so-called ‘intelligence error ‘ leading to that war originated from an African leader and not from George Bush, that leader most probably would have been facing the ICC with charges of genocide and related
crimes.”

As the withdrawal of the tiny West AFrican nation continues to draw more headlines, many observers are raising questions about its consequences on the mandate of the Gambian-born ICC Chief Prosecutor…

Written by Abdoulie JOHN

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