World Bulletin / News Desk
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Gandour told Anadolu Agency that a meeting of African Union (AU) foreign ministers had decided to leave the Netherlands-based court.
“The foreign ministers who are members of the committee vehemently criticized the ICC as holding a perverted sense of justice that only pursues the heels of African leaders,” Gandour said in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
He added: “The ministerial decision will be presented to leaders who will meet this coming Monday and, on their endorsement, African countries will withdraw from the ICC en masse.”
Sudan's leader Omar al-Bashir, who is accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, has been the subject of an ICC arrest warrant since 2009.
There are 34 African members of the ICC, making up the largest single bloc of the 124 states that have ratified the 2002 Treaty of Rome, which established the court to prosecute genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity cases in the wake of the violent break-up of Yugoslavia and genocide in Rwanda.
According to U.S.-based Harper's magazine, which used ICC data, 97 percent of people who are charged by the court in The Hague are African.
AU heads of state and government are due to meet next week. At a leaders’ summit held in Kigali, Rwanda, in July, a mass withdrawal from the ICC was proposed by Kenya.
In 2012, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was charged with crimes against humanity over ethnic violence that led to 1,200 deaths following the 2007 election. He was the first head of state to appear before the court but the charges were withdrawn two years later.
The case fostered the belief among some Africans that the court was unfairly singling out the continent’s leaders.
Last October, South Africa, Burundi and Gambia decided to leave the ICC. Powerful nations such as the U.S., Russia, China and India never ratified the Rome Treaty over concerns about sovereignty and the exposure of their citizens and soldiers to the court.
However, it remained unclear whether all the 34 African ICC members would withdraw following the decision on Wednesday.
Nigeria’s AU envoy, Godfrey Abudigbo, said: “We are in solidarity with the African Union and since yesterday, when the decision to implement mass withdrawal from the ICC was given by the AU open committee, we have started our withdrawal.
“Most African countries that are signatories to the ICC have supported the decision and they expressed their resolve to withdraw following in the footsteps of Burundi, Gambia and South Africa.”
Mass Axi Gye, Gambian AU ambassador, said the country’s perspective of the ICC could change following the removal of former President Yahya Jammeh. “In relation to ICC, it is not clear what the new government will do,” he said.