The country announced the decision on television on Tuesday night, with Gambian Information Minister Sheriff Bojang accusing the ICC of the “persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans.”
Bojang went on to state that while the court is used to persecute Africans and “especially their leaders,” it ignores crimes committed by the West.
“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,” Bojang said.
The information minister specifically noted the case of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom the ICC decided not to indict over the Iraq war.
Only Africans have been charged in the six ICC cases that are ongoing or set to begin, according to AP.
Gambia has been trying without success to use the ICC to punish the European Union for the deaths of thousands of African refugees trying to reach its shores.
Bojang insisted the decision to withdraw is “warranted by the fact that the ICC, despite being called International Criminal Court, is in fact an International Caucasian Court...”
The decision is seen as particularly notable because the ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is Gambian.
Gambia's departure makes it the third African nation to leave the court this month, after Burundi and South Africa – the latter a strong supporter of the ICC under former President Nelson Mandela. Namibia and Kenya have also raised the possibility of leaving the court.
Set up in The Hague, the Netherlands, in 2002, the ICC is tasked with “prosecuting the most serious crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.” It has, however, faced numerous accusations of bias against Africa and struggled with a lack of cooperation from countries including the US, which has signed the court's treaty but never ratified it.