By Niklas Jakobsson
Last week, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, released a statement regarding the upcoming elections in Burundi. The statement is in line with the Office of the Prosecutor’s policy of trying to deter post-election violence in states parties.
The statement lasted for several minutes and was released by the ICC on Friday. But what was said in the statement? I took to social media to find a few tweets that summed up the prosecution’s message in 140 characters or less.
Burundi has been a state party to the Rome Statute since 2004 and as the country gears up for elections, there has been unrest throughout the country. While Bensouda’s statement was welcomed in general, there are still some underlying issues that remain.
Fatou Bensouda released a similar statement ahead of the Nigerian elections a few months ago, and K.M criticised the prosecutor’s statements, claiming that she’s acting ultra vires – beyond her legal authority.
Bensouda said in her statement that she is “concerned about the growing tensions […] and reports that violence ahead of the elections may escalate”. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The prosecutor made several strong statements in her attempts to discourage violence in the run up to, and period after, the elections.
The topic of Burundi and the ICC was simmering for over a week before the prosecution made its statements. There were some talks about before whether the ICC should intervene or not. Several people were positing the question on whether the Court should intervene, and why it hadn’t made any statements.
At last, the cat is out of the bag. The ICC has made its statements and will now do nothing more than observe as the situation unfolds in Burundi. After a successful and peaceful election in Nigeria, optimism is to be expected. But as we all know, each country’s situation is unique, and there is no definitive proof that the tactics used by the Office of the Prosecutor will work. For now, the ICC has tried to use the deterrence tool in its toolbox. Now all we can do is wait and see to what extent that works out.
- Do you think the prosecutor should make statements relating to situations involving election violence?
- Is the prosecutor acting outside of her mandate?
- What do you think the prosecutor’s next step should be?
Lead image: Dr. Meddi works for Cartoon Movement.
The Weekly Hubble features the most popular or controversial international justice story of the past week and reactions on social media to the news.