Burundi parliament votes on withdrawal, Simone Gbago trial resumes and ICC decision on witness testimony


Burundi lower house of parliament passes bill to withdraw from ICC: On 12 October 2016, the lower house of Burundi’s parliament voted, by 94 out of 110 members, to support the withdrawal of the country from the International Criminal Court. The vote follows the ICC’s decision in April 2015 to conduct a preliminary investigation into the ongoing violence and the UN’s recent decision to probe into rights violations, after concerns over possible crimes against humanity and the risk of genocide. In order for Burundi to complete the withdrawal process, and be the first country to withdraw from the ICC, the legislation must be approved by the senate before being passed into law by the President, Pierre Nkurunziza. Following the vote, Amnesty International stated that the vote “highlights the government’s unwillingness to deliver justice for victims”. They also highlighted that the ICC’s preliminary examination into the country may continue, and in their opinion must continue, even if the country triggers the official withdrawal process. (AlJazeera, Amnesty International)

Trial in I.C. of Simone Gbagbo resumes with witness testimony: On 10 October 2016, the trial of Simone Gbagbo, former first lady of the Ivory Coast, for crimes against humanity resumed, after being halted on August 1 for health reasons. A witness at the trial accused Gbagbo of distributing arms, which her lawyers dismissed as ‘fabrication’. The trial concerns the post-electoral violence during 2010 to 2011, which erupted after her husband Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat at the polls, and which left more than 3000 dead. The former first lady, who is already serving a 20-year jail term after being convicted of state security offences in 2015, was due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court after the court issued a warrant of arrest in 2012. However, the Ivory Coast refused to surrender her to the ICC and instead decided to pursue a domestic trial.  (Yahoo News)

ICC PTC in Gbagbo / Ble Goude case issues decision on Rule 68(3) witnesses: On 11 October 2016, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court decided that several witnesses may testify in the case of The Prosecutor v. Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, under Rule 68(3). The provision states that “Where the personal interests of the victims are affected, the Court shall permit their views and concerns to be presented and considered at stages of the proceedings determined to be appropriate by the Court”. The Chamber also permitted some of the witnesses to testify live before the Chamber by means of video-link technology. The measure was proposed by the Victims and Witnesses Unit, who noted that there may be financial and logistical impediments to transferring the witnesses. The defence teams for Gbagbo and Blé Goudé opposed the proposed use of video-link testimony. (ICC TC Decision)

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