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Gambia's ICC withdrawal threatens human rights

The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague, Netherlands, 3 March 2011
The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague, Netherlands, 3 March 2011

REUTERS/Jerry Lampen/File Photo

This statement was originally published on freedomhouse.org on 26 October 2016.

In response to Gambia's decision to withdraw from the treaty that established the International Criminal Court, Freedom House released the following statement:

"Gambia's withdrawal from the ICC threatens human rights protection in the country, especially given the government's failure to protect the fundamental freedoms of its citizens," said Vukasin Petrovic, director of Central, West and East Africa programs. "The Gambian government has repeatedly deprived citizens of basic civil liberties by cracking down on public protests and jailing opposition and civil society figures, and withdrawal from the ICC removes a mechanism of protection."

Background:

The International Criminal Court was established under the Rome Statute to prosecute those who commit war crimes or crimes against humanity. With all cases in trial coming from the African Continent the ICC has faced backlash from African leaders despite the fact that five of the countries with cases before the Court came from state invitations to investigate. Once Sudan's President was targeted however, leaders became less supportive of the Court. The Gambia is the third country to announce its withdraw in recent weeks following Burundi and South Africa. The African continent has more signatories to the Rome Statute than any other continent.

The Gambia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2015.

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