More African countries pledge support for ICC – HRW

Cape Town – As three African countries, Burundi, Gambia, South Africa, are preparing to leave the International Criminal Court, many others on the continent have pledged their support towards it, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

HRW said in a statement that more countries in Africa had spoken out against leaving the ICC.

Ivory Coast , Nigeria , Zambia , Malawi, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Botswana werevamong the countries that had pledged their support towards the court.

This came just days after South Africa which is deemed as a leading powerhouse on the continent said that it would be leaving the Hague-based court.

South African authorities said the country would be leaving the international tribunal it was preventing it from carrying out its peace making efforts.

But in an interview broadcasted on local radio on November 1,  Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said that his country was not planning on leaving the ICC.

One of the greatest advances in justice

Ouattara’s remarks came at the back of Nigeria’s strong worded statement in support of the ICC to the General Assembly on October 31, affirming “Nigeria’s continuous commitment to support and co-operate with the court”.

Meanwhile, Zambia’s deputy president Inonge Wina told Zambia’s parliament on October 28 that “the status of Zambia’s membership” in the ICC had not changed.

And Malawi’s foreign minister Francis Kasaila said on October 28 that, “Malawi will not be pressured to leave the ICC by its neighbours”.

The ICC has also received much support from local non-governmental organisations who have urged the three African countries to reconsider their position.

HRW said that at least 20 organisations had pledged their support towards the court.

A global civil society statement endorsed by African groups from at least 16 countries on October 27, said that, “withdrawal poses a threat to one of the greatest advances in justice of the 21st century”.

African civil society organisations – including the International Commission of Jurists – Kenya, the Mali Coalition for the ICC, and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre – issued individual statements opposing the withdrawal, HRW said.

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