Yahya Jammeh
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh's government decides to pull out of the International Criminal Court, accusing the global institution of ignoring 'war crimes' of the west Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty

The Gambian government has announced withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing the world body of ignoring the "war crimes" of Western countries.

Authorities in President Yahya Jammeh's administration also claim that the court was seeking to take legal action only against Africans. The West African nation's decision has come just days after South Africa announced it was quitting The Hague-based court.

"This action is warranted by the fact that the ICC, despite being called the International Criminal Court, is in fact an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans," Reuters quoted Gambia's Information Minister Sheriff Bojang as saying.

The announcement has also come at a time when Jammeh has called on the court to investigate the deaths of migrant Africans in the Mediterranean. A statement said it had sought to bring the European Union before the court over the deaths but did not receive any response.

"There are many western countries, at least 30, that have committed heinous war crimes against independent sovereign states and their citizens since the creation of the ICC and not a single western war criminal has been indicted," it said.

Gambia is the third country to leave the court from the continent. Burundi said earlier in October it was pulling out. Kenya's parliament is also reportedly considering joining the exit club.

The ICC, which is yet to comment on Gambia's decision, has been accused of being biased against African countries by governments across the continent.

Fatou Bensouda, the current chief prosecutor of the global body, is Gambian and was the country's justice minister after serving as an adviser to Jammeh, soon after he came to power following a coup in 1994.

According to Reuters, it is not the first time that Gambia has withdrawn from an international institution. Earlier in 2013, it pulled out of the 54-member Commonwealth, which the country labelled as a "neo-colonial institution".

The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague. Picture taken on 3 March 2011 Reuters/Jerry Lampen