Published: Sat, April 13, 2019

ICC judges reject Afghanistan probe; cite lack of cooperation

ICC judges reject Afghanistan probe; cite lack of cooperation

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.

"Any attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution will be met with a swift and vigorous response", the White House said in its statement following ICC's decision.

"ICC judges' decision to reject an investigation in Afghanistan is a devastating blow for victims", Human Rights Watch's Param-Preet Singh said in a statement.

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

Last September National Security Adviser John Bolton threatened the ICC with sanctions if they pursued cases against USA citizens.

"The [ICC pre-trial] Chamber noted the time elapsed since the opening of the preliminary examination in 2006 and the political changing scene in Afghanistan since then, the lack of cooperation that the prosecutor has received and which is likely to go scarcer should an investigation be authorized, hampering the chances of successful investigation and prosecution, as well as the need for the Court to use its resources prioritizing activities that would have better chances to succeed", the statement said in part.

The announcement by the court's Pre-Trial Chamber came a week after the United States revoked the entry visa of the senior ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda. Last week, she was denied entry to the United States, following a US government revocation of visas to ICC representatives.

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. "The judges' logic effectively allows member countries to opt out of cooperating with the court and sends a risky message to all governments that obstructionist tactics can put them beyond the court's reach".

The statement comes after the International Criminal Court said in a statement earlier in the day, that it chose to decline the request of Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to launch an inquiry into allegations of war crimes perpetrated by United States forces in Afghanistan.

"Today is the second happiest day of my life", he said Friday.

Human rights and victims' organizations in Kabul called the ICC ruling "absolutely shocking".

In a preliminary report in 2017, Bensouda said there was a reasonable basis to believe that USA forces personnel and CIA officers had been involved in the war crimes of torture and rape, and that the crimes committed at the agency's so-called black sites in countries including Poland, Lithuania and Romania had been "committed with particular cruelty".

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. On Friday, he handed reporters copies of a speech he gave to the Federalist Society in September and read aloud his own words: "We will not cooperate with the ICC". "After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us". We will let the ICC die on his own.

"I don't think it's bullying to stand up to protect innocent American service members, members of the intelligence community who are unjustly accused", he said.

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