ICC judges deny prosecution request for Afghan probe

In 2016 ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda issued a report that found that US armed forces and the CIA may have committed war crimes

In 2016 ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda issued a report that found that US armed forces and the CIA may have committed war crimes

The court announced Friday it had rejected a request by lead prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open an investigation into alleged war crimes and human rights abuses perpetrated by American military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan over the course of the conflict there.

Human rights groups warned that the decision would have repercussions well beyond Afghanistan.

Such an investigation "would not serve the interests of justice", the statement said.

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.

Last week, Washington canceled the entry visa of ICC's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, saying that anyone who dared investigate USA military or intelligence personnel would face the same fate.

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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.

It began its formal examination into Afghanistan in November 2017.

"Why it happened today as opposed to some other day I think it's just the final l crash of an inadequate process", Bolton continued, suggesting the decision had more to do with the weaknesses in the case to investigate than the us actions. "It sends a risky message to perpetrators that they can put themselves beyond the reach of the law just by being uncooperative". She said that the groups allegedly responsible for possible crimes are the Taliban and other armed groups, Afghan forces, and US personnel.

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton, a sharp critic of the ICC, called the ruling a "vindication" of the U.S.' tough policy against the court that he has engineered and a "stinging defeat" for the prosecutors.

In a further sign of USA rejection of the effort, Bensouda's visa to the US was revoked earlier this month.

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In 2016, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda issued a report that found that United States armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency may have committed war crimes by torturing detainees in Afghanistan between May 1, 2003, and December 31, 2014.

She also said that the Taliban and other armed groups have carried out "a widespread and systemic attack on civilians perceived as supporting the Afghan government and foreign entities", and that there is also "reasonable basis" to believe that war crimes have been committed against people detained by the Afghan National Security Forces.

"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. "What is critical to this decision is that while the US was the most vocal in its opposition to the Court's investigation, none of the potential targets were supportive of the Court's efforts".

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.

In a phone interview from Kabul, she told The Associated Press that it risks emboldening the perpetrators of crimes in Afghanistan, who were "at least a little fearful" of facing justice.

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