Published: Sun, April 14, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

ICC Rejects Request for Investigation Into U.S. ‘War Crimes’ in Afghanistan

ICC Rejects Request for Investigation Into U.S. ‘War Crimes’ in Afghanistan

In a decision decried as "deeply flawed" and a "devastating blow for victims", International Criminal Court judges on Friday rejected a request by the court's prosecutor to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan and alleged crimes by us forces linked to the conflict.

In a preliminary report in 2017, Bensouda said there was a reasonable basis to believe that USA forces personnel and CIA officers had been involved in the war crimes of torture and rape, and that the crimes committed at the agency's so-called black sites in countries including Poland, Lithuania and Romania had been "committed with particular cruelty". Mr. Pompeo went so far as to warn that if the court opened an investigation, its personnel would be blocked from entering America.

According to the International Criminal Court, the request established a reasonable basis for investigation, however, the situation in Afghanistan has changed and much time has elapsed since the opening of the preliminary examination in 2006.

So it reckoned that the “prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution” are “extremely limited.” It called “unlikely” the prospect that “pursuing an investigation would result in meeting the objectives listed by the victims favoring the investigation.” Which means, it concluded, that an investigation of the Afghan situation “would not serve the interests of justice.”.

The ruling was hailed by US President Donald Trump as a "major global victory" but human rights group Amnesty worldwide criticised it.

In early April, Bensouda's office and the State Department confirmed that her entry visa to the U.S. had been revoked. The move was believed to be in response to the investigation which would involve actions of American soldiers.

"We welcome this decision and reiterate our position that the United States holds American citizens to the highest legal and ethical standards", the release said.

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National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has always been a critic of the ICC and declared in September "the ICC is already dead" as far as the United States is concerned, called Friday's development a "vindication" of the Trump administration's strong opposition to the worldwide court. “Any attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution, ” it said, “will be met with a swift and vigorous response.” The doctrine reflects the fact that our GIs are under the jurisdiction of our own juridical authorities.

This is in response to a request from ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in 2017, a prospect that US officials have strongly criticized.

Sima Samar, the chair of Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission who lobbied strongly for the investigation, said the decision was a disappointment for victims.

"With its decision today, the International Criminal Court sends a unsafe message, that bullying wins and that the powerful won't be held to account", said Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights, headquartered in NY.

Bolton's objections to the ICC are well-documented and were registered long ago; he used his first major public address since becoming national security advisor to President Trump to lambaste the court last September.

"The International Criminal Court's judges' rejection of an Afghanistan investigation is a devastating blow for victims who have suffered grievous crimes without redress", said Param-Preet Singh, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch.

The US has not ratified the Rome Statute, the piece of worldwide law that established the ICC in 2002 in order to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of state aggression.

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