Afghans Submit 1.17 Million War Crimes Claims To ICC
February 20, 2018
Afghans have delivered 1.17 million testimonies to the International Criminal Court three months ago, since it began collecting evidences for possible war crimes.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has been seeking a permission to begin an investigation since last November. She said that the court has been looking into possible war crimes in Afghanistan since 2006.
Bensouda also added that evidence existed of war crimes perpetrated “by members of the United States armed forces on the territory of Afghanistan, and by members of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in secret detention facilities in Afghanistan,” which were operating mostly between 2003 and 2004.
A spokesman of the Pentagon refused to conduct investigations into US citizens, while the US State Department expressed its opposition to the ICC investigation in Afghanistan.
This is the first time Bensouda refers to US forces committing war crimes, which could lead to a possible confrontation between the two sides. Bensouda also decried the “near total impunity” enjoyed by armed forces, both foreign and domestic, operating in Afghanistan. The US is not a member state of the ICC but American citizens can be charged with atrocities committed in member countries. The US State Department said at the time of Bensouda’s announcement that it opposes the court’s involvement in Afghanistan.
“The testimonies document atrocities perpetrated by Taliban and ISIS organization, as well as Afghan security forces, regular commanders of the US-led coalition forces, and local and international intelligence agencies,” said Abd Elwadud Pedram, of the human rights and anti-violence organization in Kabul.
“It is shocking there are so many,” Mr Pedram said, noting that in some instances, whole villages were represented. “It shows how the justice system in Afghanistan is not bringing justice to the victims and their families.”
Pedram has had to go into hiding on multiple occasions over security concerns emanating from his work. Several warlords who rose to prominence amid the power vacuum left behind in the wake of the 2001 US-led intervention against the Taliban are among the alleged war criminals reported to the ICC.
“The warlords are all here. You have to be very careful,” Pedram said. “In the morning, I kiss my little son goodbye, I kiss my wife goodbye because I don’t know what will happen to me and when, or if I will see them again.”
The ICC is the world’s first permanent court established specifically to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. However, the ICC can investigate alleged crimes committed in Afghanistan only after May 2003, when the government ratified the Rome Statute which established the ICC.
ICC judges in The Hague have yet to determine whether they will launch a war crimes investigation. There has been no guidance given on when such an investigation might be launched..