Legal expert expelled from Burundi, which aims to quit Hague court

The representative of a non-governmental organization fighting international judicial impunity has been expelled from Burundi, the organization said Friday.

Pamela Capizzi had been training local lawyers on behalf of TRIAL International, which combats impunity for crimes coming under international jurisdiction, such as war crimes or crimes against humanity.

The move came on Thursday when the government also announced its intention to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague.

Capizzi was ordered to leave Thursday after her visa was revoked, TRIAL International spokeswoman Chloe Bitton told dpa.

The Burundian authorities gave no reason for Capizzi's expulsion, but human rights activists said it reflected their fears that they could be challenged at international tribunals over the deaths of hundreds of people in a wave of political violence.

"It is a political decision revealing panic on the government side," lawyer and human rights activist Armel Niyongere said.

Capizzi's expulsion followed an announcement by the government that Burundi was planning to withdraw from the ICC, where prosecutors have announced a preliminary investigation into the situation in the country.

"The intention of the ICC is to trample on the rights of blacks. The injustice of these colonizing countries towards Africans is intolerable," Vice President Gaston Sindimwo said on announcing the government's decision, which still needs to be approved by parliament.

Opponents of President Pierre Nkurunziza say his decision to seek a third term in office, and his election victory in July 2015, violated the constitution.

An estimated 500 people have been killed over the past 17 months, while more than 200,000 have fled their homes.

Last update: Fri, 07/10/2016 - 18:27
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