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All About the International Criminal Court ICC

All About the International Criminal Court ICC in Burundi

Burundi Tutsis and Hutus in 2017 International Criminal Court or ICC judges opened an investigation into crimes against humanity in Burundi.

Background on why the International Criminal Court became involved. With Tutsi rebels continuing to fight waging guerrilla battles in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, the ethnic strife that sparked the slaughters in Rwanda and Burundi continue in the regions.



Hutus first settled in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa between five hundred and one thousand BC and were an agricultural people who lived in large family groups. The Tutsis were a nomadic people who began arriving in the Great Lakes region from Ethiopia some four hundred years ago. Eventually, the Tutsis settled amongst the Hutus adopting the languages, beliefs and customs.

Colonial rule, which began in the late 19th Century, did little to bring the groups together. The Belgians, who ruled what, would later become Rwanda and Burundi, forced Hutus and Tutsis to carry ethnic identity cards. The colonial administrators further exacerbated divisions by only allowed Tutsis to attain higher education and hold positions of power.

However, economic differences between the groups soon began to form. The Tutsis as cattle-herders were often in a position of economic dominance to the farming Hutus and in many areas, like Rwanda, the minority Tutsis ruled the Hutus. The only difference between the two groups was economic, rather than ethnic.


The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt) is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague in the Netherlands. The ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

In October 2017, Burundi was the first ever country to leave the ICC stating the reason for leaving was due to the International Criminal Court of deliberately targeting Africans for prosecution. The Gambia's government reversed its withdrawal February 2017 and South Africa's withdrawal from the ICC was revoked in March 2017.

The ICC envisioned mission is to complement existing national judicial systems only exercising its jurisdiction when certain conditions are met, such as when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or when the United Nations Security Council or individual states refer situations to the Court.

August 2017 a UN commission of inquiry report said crimes against humanity, including murder and sexual violence, are still being committed in Burundi and it asked the ICC to open an investigation as soon as possible. Burundi withdrew from the IIC three months later in October 2017.

According to the UN report based on interviews with more than 500 witnesses, alleged perpetrators, include top officials in Burundi's National Intelligence Services and police force, military officials and members of the youth league of the ruling party, known as Imbonerakure.

The ICC has indicted 39, in case you were wondering; The United States is not a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Clinton Administration signed the Rome Statute in 2000, but did not submit it for Senate ratification.

The George W. Bush Administration, the U.S. administration at the time of the ICC's founding, stated that it would not join the ICC. The Obama Administration subsequently re-established a working relationship with the Court as an observer.

International Criminal Court member countries in Africa and year joined
Benin January 2002
Botswana September 2000
Burkina Faso April 2004
Cabo Verde October 2011
Central African Republic October 2001
Chad January 2007
Republic of the Congo May 2004
Côte d’Ivoire February 2013
Democratic Republic of the Congo April 2002
Djibouti November 2002
Gabon September 2000
The Gambia June 2002
Ghana December 1999
Guinea July 2003
Kenya March 2005
Lesotho September 2000
Liberia September 2004
Madagascar March 2008
Malawi September 2002
Mali August 2000
Mauritius March 2002
Namibia June 2002
Niger April 2002
Nigeria September 2001
Senegal February 1999
Seychelles August 2010
Sierra Leone September 2000
South Africa November 2000
Tanzania August 2002
Tunisia June 2011
Uganda June 2002
Zambia November 2002
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