Hundreds in Congo petition government to withdraw from ICC

Photo credit: Africanews

About 400 Congolese from two ruling party youth groups marched in the capital Brazzaville on Thursday and petitioned the government to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.

Members of the Patriotic Front (PF) and the MR2020 embarked on a two-kilometer walk to the Ministry of Justice where they submitted the petition titled “plea for withdrawal of Congo from the ICC.”

Congo ratified the Rome Statute establishing the ICC in May 2004, becoming the 94th member country of the Court.

“It turns out that the ratification is incompatible with the provisions of Article 10 of our new Constitution,” Secretary-General of the PF party, Paolo Benazo said at the event participated by the Minister of Youth, Hermellia Doukaga.

Article 10 of the Congolese Constitution adopted in October 2015 states that: “Except in case of loss or deprivation of nationality, no Congolese citizen shall be extradited nor handed to a power or foreign organization whatever the motive”.

The Minister of Justice, Pierre Mabiala, said he had taken notice of the initiative of the youth after receiving their petition.

“We are outraged. We can not understand that the groups of the ruling party will take such an initiative. This simply means that the government wants to guarantee impunity,” rights advocate Roch Euloge Nzobo of the Centre for Rights and Development told AFP.

“States can withdraw from the ICC, but that does not exempt them from prosecution under the Convention against Torture, for example. We can start with the ICC, but justice will always catch up,” he added.

Burundi was the first country to announce its withdrawal from the ICC followed by South Africa and Gambia raising fears of a mass withdrawal from the court by African countries.