ICC judges deny Afghan war crimes probe

ICC rejects request to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan

The U.S. on Friday hailed the International Criminal Court's (ICC) unanimous decision to reject a prosecutor's request to probe alleged crimes against humanity that could have involved American forces.

"The chamber hereby decides that an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan at this stage would not serve the interests of justice and accordingly rejects the request", the judges said in their decision.

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 could even get started", said Jamil Dakwar, the director of the Human Rights Program at the American Civil Liberties Union, TheNYT reported.

Though the judges said there was a basis to believe crimes had been committed, a lack of cooperation from the U.S., Afghan authorities and the Taliban made the chances of a successful prosecution remote.

Bensouda also wanted to investigate alleged war crimes closely linked to Afghanistan allegedly committed since July 2002 on the territory of other States Parties to the Rome Statute.

This is a major worldwide victory, not only for these patriots, but for the rule of law.

In a speech before the Federalist Society, Bolton declared, "We will not cooperate with the ICC".

"Any attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution will be met with a swift and vigorous response", the US president said.

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The court's decision acknowledges that 680 of the almost 700 applications from victims "welcomed the prospect of an investigation aimed at bringing culprits to justice, preventing crime and establishing the truth".

Some human rights advocates are slamming the decision as a unsafe precedent. According to a statement from the time, Bensouda's office "determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe" that members of the U.S. armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency committed "war crimes", particularly in 2003-2004.

Last week, she was denied entry to the United States, following a US government revocation of visas to ICC representatives. "It sends a risky message to perpetrators that they can put themselves beyond the reach of the law just by being uncooperative".

"The United States will always protect Allied and American military and civilian personnel from living in fear from unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation", Pompeo said in a statement. Fatou Bensouda's U.S. visa was revoked over a possible probe involving American soldiers' actions since 2003 in the bloody Afghan conflict.

This update comes just a week after the United States revoked entry visas to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who had been examining on the court's behalf the possibility of war crimes committed in Afghanistan by the United States.

Sima Samar, the chair of Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission, strongly supported the probe. Like the United States, Israel is not a member of the court and thus its citizens are susceptible to court action only if they are in countries that belong to the ICC.

"With this decision, people will lose hope of getting justice, and they might take revenge, fuelling conflict in the country", she said.

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