Gabon ratified the Rome Statute in 2000. On 29 September 2016, following a referral by the government of Gabon, the ICC announced a preliminary examination into alleged crimes after May 2016, related to the contested 2016 presidential elections
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Gabon ratified the Rome Statute on 20 September 2000 but has not fully implemented ICC crimes and cooperation provisions into national legislation. Gabon has ratified the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the ICC but not the Kampala Amendments.

Opposition parties and multi-party elections were not legalized in Gabon until 1990. President Omar Bongo, who ruled the country for over four decades until his death in 2009, was succeeded by his son Ali Bongo after he won a contested election that raised concerns about the transparency of Gabon’s political process. Allegations of elections fraud surfaced again when Bongo won the presidential election in August 2016.  Following violent outbursts between opposing political parties, the government of Gabon on 21 September 2016 referred the situation on its territory to the ICC Prosecutor, who announced the opening of a preliminary examination on 29 September 2016.

Background
The 2016 presidential elections Opposition demonstrators began clashing with police in Gabon after incumbent President Ali Bongo won disputed presidential elections in August 2016. While opposition figures indicate more than 50 people were killed during the violence, the government of Gabon only confirmed three deaths. In a 21 September 2016 referral letter to the ICC, the Gabonese government alleged that Jean Ping, former African Union (AU) chief and loser of the 2016 elections in Gabon, and his supporters had intended to incite genocide and crimes against humanity. The government’s ICC referral letter also pointed at events that took place prior to the election, during the election campaign. Opposition leader Ping has himself welcomed the idea of a preliminary examination by human rights groups and the ICC and stated that his side would share their own files with the Court. AU Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma raised concerns about the violent outbreak in Gabon and condemned potential threats to the country’s security, calling on all sides in Gabon to demonstrate restraint and to resort to legal channels to resolve any disputes regarding the election results. Dlamini Zuma affirmed the AU’s continued support to Gabon’s leaders and people in efforts to promote democracy, stability, and development in the country.
ICC situation

The ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) announced a preliminary examination in Gabon on 29 September 2016, shortly after the government of Gabon officially referred the situation to the Court in a 21 September letter. The OTP is assessing whether alleged crimes committed after May 2016, including in the context of the 2016 presidential elections, may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide under the Rome Statute, and whether national investigations and prosecutions into relevant cases are genuine. 

Cooperation

Gabon has an obligation, as an ICC member state, to provide comprehensive cooperation to the Court in order for it effectively carry out its mandate.

 

In 2010, Gabon ratified the ICC cooperation and access treaty – the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the ICC. In the same year, provisions on cooperation with the ICC were incorporated into Gabon’s new Code of Criminal Procedure.

 

According to these provisions, Gabon must cooperate fully with ICC investigations and prosecutions: the chief prosecutor in Gabon must accept ICC requests for mutual assistance; and he or she must respond to an ICC request for arrest and surrender by seeking, arresting, and incarcerating the wanted suspect.  

Civil society advocacy

Civil society has long welcomed Gabon's membership in the African, Caribbean and Pacific community (ACP), and its support for relations between the ACP and European Union, as a sign of the country's investment in the ICC as a mechanism for peace and international justice. Gabon must take the next crucial step and fully implement Rome Statute crimes into its domestic legal order.

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ICC Rome Statute

Ratified/acceded (ICC member state)
20 September 2000

Kampala Amendments to Rome Statute

Crime of agression
Not ratified
Article 8
Not ratified

Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the ICC

Ratified
22 September 2010