ICC Judges’ Rejection Of An Afghanistan Investigation A Devastating Blow For Victims: Human Rights Watch

“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 judges’ logic effectively allows member countries to opt out of cooperating with the court and sends a dangerous message to all governments that obstructionist tactics can put them beyond the court’s reach.”

International Criminal Court judges’ deny a request to open an investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan.

“By closing the door on this investigation, the ICC judges have let political considerations outweigh the rights of victims to see their abusers held to account,” Singh said. “Getting countries to cooperate with the court is a real challenge, but this decision is an invitation to governments to create hurdles to stop the ICC from acting.”

Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda demanded authorization in November 2017 to open an investigation into war crimes by the Taliban insurgents and the Afghan National Security Forces and the US military and Central Intelligence Agency. This request sought to include crimes dating back to 2003.

Owing to the changing times since the preliminary examination in the year 2006, the judges claimed that this exercise will be a wastage of resources. The panel also pointed out that the reduced support prosecutor received to take such requests forward and how it has been gradually decreasing citing this as one of the reasons for rejection.

Among other human rights organizations, Amnesty International also condemned the step by saying “a shocking abandonment of the victims” that ultimately will be seen as a craven capitulation to Washington’s bullying and threats.”

“The court has a moral and legal duty to reach out to the victims of crimes in Afghanistan and explain this decision,” Biraj Patnaik, South Asia Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

The United States, a harbinger of the peace in Afghanistan welcomed the step thoroughly.
“This decision is a victory for the rule of law and the integrity of the ICC as an institution, given the United States is not subject to the ICC’s jurisdiction,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

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