Burundi is officially the first country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court following a notice a year ago. The pullout takes effect Friday, after President Pierre Nkurunziza signed a decree in 2016. Under the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, withdrawal takes effect a year after notification.
Burundi’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to remove the country from the court’s jurisdiction. The move was unprecedented in a continent whose leaders often complain that the court disproportionately targets Africans. But Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying the withdrawal shields agencies from accountability.
"Burundi’s official withdrawal is the latest example of the government’s deplorable efforts to shield those responsible for grave human rights violations from any kind of accountability," associate director Param-Preet Singh said. "We urge the ICC to take a progressive approach in interpreting its jurisdiction so victims maintain a viable path to justice."