ICC rejects request to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan

The world criminal court states that such probe "would not serve the interests of justice"

Photo: AFP The ICC building

A panel of judges at the International Criminal Court has rejected a request to proceed with investigating possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, including those allegedly involving US armed forces and the CIA. This comes in response to a request from ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in 2017, a prospect that US officials have strongly criticised.

In 2017 Bensouda submitted more than 20,000 pages of information to the court in which she said that the groups allegedly responsible for possible crimes are the Taliban and other armed groups, Afghan forces, and US personnel.

"There is reasonable basis to believe that, since May 2003, members of the US armed forces and the CIA have committed the war crimes of torture and cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape and other forms of sexual violence pursuant to a policy approved by US authorities," she claimed.

Yet, in their unanimous decision released Friday, the judges at the ICC rejected the request because "the current circumstances of the situation in Afghanistan are such as to make the prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution extremely limited." The decision also noted that the prosecutor hasn't been able to secure cooperation from the parties, making it very unlikely the probe would succeed. A significant amount of time has passed since many of the crimes were allegedly committed, the judges said, and there's a need for the ICC "to use its resources prioritizing activities that would have a better changes to succeed."

Explaining their decision, the three ICC pre-trial chamber judges also said such an investigation "would not serve the interests of justice".

Some human rights advocates are slamming the decision as a dangerous precedent.

"ICC judges' decision to reject an investigation in Afghanistan is a devastating blow for victims," Human Rights Watch's Param-Preet Singh said in a statement. "It sends a dangerous message to perpetrators that they can put themselves beyond the reach of the law just by being uncooperative."

Similar articles

  • Blinken to visit Denmark, Iceland, Greenland, talks with Lavrov on agenda

    Blinken to visit Denmark, Iceland, Greenland, talks with Lavrov on agenda

    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is headed to Europe and North Atlantic islands next week to put the Biden administration’s stamp on climate change policy in the Arctic and warn Russia against interference in the United States, Ukraine and elsewhere, the State Department said on Friday, AP reported. Blinken will visit Denmark, Iceland and Greenland starting on Sunday to stress the US commitment to green technology and preserving environmental stability in the Arctic, the department said. 

  • US lifts most mask-wearing guidelines for fully vaccinated people

    US lifts most mask-wearing guidelines for fully vaccinated people

    In a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings, AP reported. “Today is a great day for America,” President Joe Biden said during a Rose Garden address heralding the new guidance, an event where he and his staff went without masks.

  • Biden signs cybersecurity order following Colonial Pipeline attack

    Biden signs cybersecurity order following Colonial Pipeline attack

    US President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday that advances federal cybersecurity capabilities and encourages improvements in digital security standards across the private sector which has been hit by a string of cyber incidents, news wires reported. The order establishes a series of initiatives designed to better equip federal agencies with cybersecurity tools.