Amnesty Urges ICC to Keep Investigating Burundi War Crimes

The International Criminal Court should continue probing war crimes in Burundi despite a decision by the nation’s lawmakers to withdraw from the Court, Amnesty International said.

The vote “is part of the government’s continued effort to deny justice for victims of human rights violations committed since the crisis began in April 2015,” Amnesty’s Regional Director Muthoni Wanyeki said in an e-mailed statement late Wednesday.

The vote to remove the nation from the ICC now requires presidential assent before it become law. Burundi’s current crisis began in early 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term, a move seen by many as a violation of the nation’s constitution. At least 564 people have been killed and more than 300,000 have fled the country, most of them to refugee camps in neighboring Rwanda and Tanzania, according to the United Nations.

“Interventions by international and regional bodies should be seen as opportunity rather than a threat,” Wanyeki said.

This week, Burundi declared three independent UN and African Union experts unwelcome in the country, Amnesty said. The government also suspended cooperation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the country.

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