|The International Criminal Court's prosecutor said Tuesday that it is a "regression" for African nations — including her home country of Gambia — to quit the court and said the continent should work with her office to end impunity for atrocities.
Speaking to The Associated Press at the court's headquarters overlooking the North Sea on the edge of The Hague, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said regional and local courts in Africa can also play a key role in bringing perpetrators of atrocities to justice.
Bensouda's comments came as the court's governing body, the Assembly of States Parties, met nearby with the issue of departing African states figuring prominently in its discussions.
South Africa, Burundi and Gambia have announced plans to leave the court, which has 124 member states, sparking fears of a domino effect among other African nations.
"I think it's a setback for the continent, it's a regression for the continent that there are some African states that are deciding to withdraw from the ICC," Bensouda said.
However, she said that the announced withdrawals have galvanized support for the court among other African countries attending the annual gathering of member states.
"I wanted to emphasize that today during this Assembly of States Parties you have the vast majority of African states recommitting to the ICC and renewing ... support for the ICC," Bensouda said.
One way of the international court engaging with Africa is by supporting local and regional courts, Bensouda said. Her office is working with authorities in Central African Republic to help establish a court to prosecute atrocities in that conflict-torn country.