International criminal court authorised investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by US soldiers in Afghanistan

World Sergey Matyunin 05-Mar-2020
international criminal court
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The international criminal court have authorised an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Last year the ICC rejected the request and said any investigation and prosecution was unlikely to be successful because the US, Afghan authorities and the Taliban would not cooperate.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said then that Washington would revoke or deny visas to ICC staff seeking to investigate alleged war crimes and other abuses committed by US forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere. The court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda later confirmed that her US visa had been revoked.

On Thursday the ICC’s appeals chamber said the lower court had misinterpreted some of the court’s rules and that the investigation should be allowed to go ahead.

It also confirmed that the scope of the investigation should include CIA sites in Poland, Lithuania and Romania where detainees were taken.

The chair of the appeals tribunal, Piotr Hofmański, said: “The prosecutor is authorised to commence investigation in relation to events dating back to 2003 as well as other alleged crimes [related to] Afghanistan.”

Hofmanski said Bensouda should not limit her investigation to preliminary findings as this would “erroneously inhibit the prosecution’s truth-seeking function”.

In November 2017 Bensouda asked judges to authorise a full-scale investigation following a preliminary investigation that lasted more than a decade.

She has said there is information that members of the US military and intelligence agencies committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan and other locations, principally in the early years of the conflict.

She has also said the Taliban and other insurgent groups have killed more than 17,000 Afghan civilians since 2009 and that Afghan security forces are suspected of torturing prisoners at government detention centres.

One line of investigation the ICC prosecutors were following involved the CIA’s alleged mistreatment of detainees.

The ICC, which began operations in The Hague in 2002, is a court of last resort for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by nationals of a signatory state or that allegedly took place on the territory of one of its member states.

Both Afghanistan and the US have opposed the investigation. The US government refuses to cooperate with the global court.