Afghanistan: ICC refuses to authorize investigation, caving into U.S. threats

National security advisor John Bolton called the ICC’s decision vindication of his long-standing opposition to the court

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has rejected its prosecutor's request to investigate alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

In its decision, the judges cited the prosecutor's request claiming "there is a reasonable basis to believe that, since 2003, members of the USA armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency have committeed the war crimes of torture and crule treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape and other forms of sexual violence pursuant to a policy approved by the U.S. authorities".

According to a media release about the decision, the three judge panel "concluded that an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan at this stage would not serve the interests of justice".

The court went on to state that the prosecutor has not obtained cooperation from Afghanistan sources, which bodes poorly for any further investigation.

Amnesty said the refusal to investigate was a "shocking abandonment of victims" that would "weaken the court's already questionable credibility".

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The court investigates and brings to justice people responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, intervening when national authorities can not or will not prosecute.

In their unanimous decision released Friday, the judges said that the prosecutor's request is within the court's jurisdiction and the crimes are of sufficient gravity for it to consider the case.

The decision "is insane and politically charged", Karine Bonneau, director of worldwide justice at the global Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), said in a tweet.

Bensouda, who started looking into crimes in Afghanistan in 2006, did not immediately comment on the rejection, which she can appeal.

But it said that it was ultimately rejecting the request because "the current circumstances of the situation in Afghanistan are such as to make the prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution extremely limited".

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The ICC backed down after the Trump administration took a heretofore un-tried hard line in respect of the courts gumshoes.

"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.

Eugene Kontorovich, a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told the Washington Free Beacon that the decision was "very surprising", and an indication of the success of President Donald Trump's administration's efforts in opposing partisan courts like the ICC.

"This is a major worldwide victory, not only for these patriots, but for the rule of law", Trump said in a statement.

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. She said that the groups allegedly responsible for possible crimes are the Taliban and other armed groups, Afghan forces, and US personnel. 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. It has focused on African countries, which has been a source of criticism.

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