Bujumbura believes in international justice not ICC, says Ministry of Justice

While the world celebrates the International Justice Day each 17 July, defenders of human rights violations in Burundi still believe in the ability of the ICC to prosecute and bring to justice those responsible for serious crimes. Burundi government says it rather appreciates international justice.

JusticeAdolphe Havyarimana, spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, says Burundi government believes in international justice and always respects the international law despite the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court-ICC.

Mr. Havyarimana also recalls that there are other international jurisdictions that Burundi believes in except the ICC. He gives the example of the East African Court of Justice. Concerning those who have brought their cases before the ICC, he says “it’s their own matters as Burundi withdrew from the ICC on October 27, 2017.

Lambert Nigarura, chairman of Burundi Coalition for the ICC and one of the collective of lawyers who defend the families of victims of the Human Rights violations committed in Burundi since 2015 says the International Criminal Court is working on the mechanisms for the protection of victims and witnesses since the announcement of the opening of the investigation by the prosecutor’s office.

Nigarura also says the coalition is sensitizing the victims who want to participate or be represented in the legal proceedings initiated by this International Criminal Court. “More than 1,600 families of victims have already brought their cases before the ICC”, he says adding that the ICC is the only competent court to judge the perpetrators of serious crimes.

Nigarura says the ICC will still investigate the crimes committed in the country when Burundi was still a state party to the Rome Statute. “Its withdrawal doesn’t have any effect”, he says adding that the ICC should adopt other strategies to arrest the alleged perpetrators.

The celebration of the world day of International Justice coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute establishing the International criminal Court. In September 2017, the pre-trial chamber authorized the ICC prosecutor to initiate an investigation into crimes committed in Burundi from 26 April 2015 to 26 October 2017.

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