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Burundi lawmakers vote to withdraw from ICC; would be 1st

KIGALI, Rwanda — Lawmakers in Burundi voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to support a plan to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, something no country has ever done.

The decision escalates a bitter dispute with the international community over the human rights situation in the East African country, which has seen more than a year of deadly violence after President Pierre Nkurunziza made a controversial decision to pursue a third term.

No state has withdrawn from the court, according to the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, a nonprofit that supports the court’s work. The court prosecutes cases of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.


Ninety-four out of 110 Burundi lawmakers voted in favor of the withdrawal plan, months after the court announced it would investigate the country’s ongoing violence.

The decision now needs the president’s approval.

Some African countries have threatened a withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the court, accusing it of disproportionately targeting the continent.

Only Africans have been charged in the six cases that are ongoing or about to begin.

Burundi’s decision is not immediate. Observers say a country wanting to withdraw must write to the UN secretary general stating its intention, and the withdrawal takes effect a year after the day the secretary general receives the letter.

Associated Press