“Gambia has announced its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, accusing it of targeting Africans. Tuesday’s announcement follows similar decisions this month by South Africa and Burundi to abandon the Hague-based court.Information Minister Sheriff Bojang said in an announcement on state television that the court had ignored crimes committed by the West. He said, “not a single Western war criminal has been indicted”, and that the withdrawal is, “warranted by the fact that the ICC, despite being called International Criminal Court, is in fact an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans”. The ICC was set up in 2002 to try the world’s worst crimes but has been accused by African leaders of bias and racism. This latest decision will also come as a personal blow to the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, a former Gambian justice minister” (CCTV Africa, 2016)
On 21 September 2016, I received a referral from the Government of the Gabonese Republic regarding the situation in Gabon since May 2016 with no end-date. In reference to article 14 of the Rome Statute, Rule 45 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and Regulation 25(1)(b) of the Regulations of the Office of the Prosecutor, the Government of the Gabonese Republic requests the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) “to open an investigation without delay”.
In accordance with the requirement of the Rome Statute my Office will be conducting a preliminary examination in order to establish whether the criteria for opening an investigation are met. A preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation pursuant to the criteria established by the Rome Statute.
Specifically, under article 53(1) of the Rome Statute, as Prosecutor, I must consider issues of jurisdiction, admissibility and the interests of justice in making this determination. The Office gives due consideration to all submissions and views conveyed to it during the course of a preliminary examination, strictly guided by the requirements of the Rome Statute and in the independent and impartial exercise of its mandate.
My Office will examine information regarding crimes allegedly committed by any groups or individuals involved in the situation. Where a referral is accompanied by supporting documentation that identifies potential perpetrators, my Office is not bound or constrained by the information contained therein when conducting investigations in order to determine whether specific persons should be charged. After careful analysis of all available information, I shall make a determination that will be made public in due course.
The Gabonese Republic is a State Party to the Rome Statute, and as such, the ICC has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on the territory or by nationals of Gabon since 1 July 2002, the date when the Statute entered into force in Gabon.
For background, see The Office of the Prosecutor’s Policy Paper on Preliminary Examinations, November 2013, particularly par. 27
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecution of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Office has been conducting investigations in: Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two separate investigations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Georgia. The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan; Burundi; the registered vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia; Colombia; Guinea; Iraq/UK; Palestine, Nigeria and Ukraine.