Burundi's lawmakers pass motion to quit International Criminal Court

Burundi's parliament Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), deepening a months-long row between the global tribunal and the East African nation.

Of the country's 110 lawmakers, 94 elected to leave the ICC, while 14 abstained and two voted against the motion.

The decision to withdraw comes after the ICC announced in April that it would investigate outbreaks of violence in Burundi that killed hundreds and forced hundreds of thousands to leave the country.

The violence was triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza in April 2015 when he announced his intention to seek a third term in office despite a constitutional two-term limit. He won an election boycotted by the opposition the following July.

The UN, which is the depositary of the treaty that established the international court, had not been notified of Burundi's decision to withdraw, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York.

"No letter has been received as of today indicating their decision," Dujarric said. "If a letter were received, it would be regrettable."

Withdrawal from the ICC becomes effective one year after the UN receives official notification, the spokesman said. Until the date that the withdrawal becomes effective, state parties are obligated to comply with any criminal investigation or proceeding by the court.

On Tuesday, Burundi cut ties with another international body, the United Nations Human Rights Council, while barring entry to three UN investigators.

The trio of independent experts had been issued a mandate by the UN rights body in December to investigate the situation in Burundi. They informed the UN of their findings in September, accusing the authorities of killing and torturing opponents.

Government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba described the findings as "biased" and accused the investigators of trying to destabilize the country.

Last update: Wed, 12/10/2016 - 22:00
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