ICC rejects investigation on war crimes in Afghanistan

ICC rejects investigation on war crimes in Afghanistan”

The International Criminal Court turned down on Friday a request to open a war crimes probe in Afghanistan, with the United States hailing a victory for its strong-armed tactic of revoking the chief prosecutor's visa.

The decision "is insane and politically charged", Karine Bonneau, director of worldwide justice at the global Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), said in a tweet.

The statement comes after the International Criminal Court said in a statement earlier in the day, that it made a decision to decline the request of Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to launch an inquiry into allegations of war crimes perpetrated by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The US "holds American citizens to the highest legal and ethical standards", and has consistently refused to join the ICC because of its "broad, unaccountable prosecutorial powers", threats to US sovereignty, and "and other deficiencies that render it illegitimate", Trump said in a statement.

Angered, President Donald Trump's administration said it would deny visas to any ICC members involved in probing USA troops and, last week, it revoked the visa of the Gambian-born Bensouda.

ICC prosecutors in 2006 opened a preliminary investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan since 2003.

Eugene Kontorovich, a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told the Washington Free Beacon that the decision was "very surprising", and an indication of the success of President Donald Trump's administration's efforts in opposing partisan courts like the ICC.

The United States revoked Bensouda's entry visa earlier this month, after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in March that Washington would withdraw or deny visas to any ICC staff investigating possible war crimes by U.S. forces or allies in Afghanistan.

"In the foreseeable absence of additional resources for the coming years in the court's budget, authorising the investigation would result in the prosecution having to reallocate financial and human resources", the judges said.

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 USA armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency.

ICC prosecutors said in 2015 they had evidence suggesting worldwide forces in Afghanistan had caused serious harm to detainees by subjecting them to physical and psychological abuse.

Human Rights Watch slammed the ruling, calling it "a devastating blow for victims who have suffered grave crimes without redress".

Asked if the thought the ICC should have authority to prosecute Sudan's Omar al Bash - who has been indicated by the court - for genocide, Bolton replied plainly: "It's the position of the United States that the court is illegitimate".

"It is outrageous that victims of war crimes are far less likely to get justice for well-documented atrocities because of the Trump administration's authoritarian efforts to sabotage an investigation before it even started", said Jamil Dakwar, director of the group's human rights programme.

While Washington has pushed for the creation of ad-hoc worldwide tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR), the United States voted against the establishment of the ICC in 1998, and has refused to join or submit to its authority after the court was officially created in 2002. "When Americans violate their training and doctrine, whether they're in the military or intelligence community, as a democratic constitutional society we are capable of holding our own citizens accountable", Bolton said.

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