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International Criminal Court rejects call to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan

14 April 2019

After the International Criminal Court (ICC) declined to investigate claims of US atrocities in Afghanistan, US President Donald Trump cheered the decision but said the ICC was "illegitimate" and US and allies beyond its reach.

The International Criminal Court dropped plans on Friday to investigate alleged war crimes of USA military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan.

Judges said the court needed to "use its resources prioritising activities that would have better chances to succeed", according to an ICC press release.

"The judges' logic effectively allows states to opt out on their obligation to cooperate with the court's investigation", said Param-Preet Singh, the group's associate global justice director. "If anything, the court's reluctance to proceed with investigations in the face of such constraints only reveals its overreach and signals its weak resolve", said Biraj Patnaik.

"Afghanistan has been witness to heinous crimes committed with near-absolute impunity, across the country, for more than a decade and a half".

"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.

So it reckoned that the “prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution” are “extremely limited.” It called “unlikely” the prospect that “pursuing an investigation would result in meeting the objectives listed by the victims favoring the investigation.” Which means, it concluded, that an investigation of the Afghan situation “would not serve the interests of justice.”.

"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", he 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.

"This is a major worldwide victory, not only for these patriots, but for the rule of law", US President Donald Trump said in a statement in Washington on Friday after the judges' ruling was announced in the Hague.

Bolton's objections to the ICC are well-documented and were registered long ago; he used his first major public address since becoming national security advisor to President Trump to lambaste the court last September.

In 2017, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked judges to allow a full-blown probe not only into the Taliban and Afghan soldiers, but also global forces, particularly USA troops and members of the Central Intelligence Agency. 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.

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

"We will let the ICC die on its own", Bolton said past year. It has focused on African countries, which has been a source of criticism.

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

International Criminal Court rejects call to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan