On Thursday, November 9, the International Criminal Court ordered an investigation into the crimes in Burundi, but the following day, the country in question denies any cooperation with investigators. On Saturday, November 11, two East African presidents condemned the ICC decision against a country that has resigned a few weeks.
The ICC, however, addressed the particular issue of Burundi being a non-member of the group, “the ICC has jurisdiction over crimes alleged to have been committed in Burundi or by its nationals from 1 December 2004 to 26 October 2017, Burundi was still a member.
But Burundi said on Friday that it will not cooperate with the ICC’s investigators on war crimes. “The government rejects this decision and reiterates its firm determination not to cooperate,” said Burundian Minister of Justice Aimee Laurentine Kanyana.
Some African countries support Burundi
Some legal experts revealed to Reuters, that it will be difficult for ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to gather evidence without the support of the Burundian government, which last month was the first to withdraw from the Hague Court.
Like Burundi, Kenya and South Africa have threatened to withdraw from the tribunal, arguing that it was disproportionately aimed at Africans.
On Saturday, November 11, the tanzanian presidency anounced, “Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni condemned the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which ordered his prosecutor to launch an investigation into the conflict in Burundi.”
The statement was issued after Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s three-day visit to Uganda, where he had talks with Museveni about Burundi and other topics.
“Museveni … said that the ICC is interfering in the affairs of the East African Community (EAC) without consulting local leaders, which is a false move that undermines the recovery efforts of the East African Community”, the statement said.
“Magufuli said this decision went against the efforts already made by the EAC, including the appointment of a mediation committee for the Burundi peace process led by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa”.
Regional mediators of peace talks in Burundi are expected to hold another round of talks on 23 November, the Tanzanian presidency said.
Magufuli said the security problems in Burundi have been exaggerated, citing a recent voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees from Tanzania.
Burundi sank into violence in April 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he was going to run for a third term, sparking protests and crackdowns on security forces.
He was re-elected in July, but most opponents boycotted the vote, saying his decision violated the Arusha constitution and peace accords, which ended a civil war in 2005.
As a result, government forces reportedly killed over 1,000 people and 400,000 were displaced. Human rights groups say the number of killed may be far higher. The court must investigate crimes against humanity including murder, torture, rape and persecution.
Tanzania and Uganda, which host thousands of Burundian refugees, have been engaged for months in diplomatic efforts to restore peace in Burundi. So far, there has been little progress.
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Jean Baptiste Karegeya
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