ICC prosecutor calls for Afghanistan war crimes probe

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UNITED NATIONS, Nov 4 (APP):The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court plans to seek approval to open a formal investigation into allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan, said to have been committed by both the Taliban and US forces.
In a statement, Fatou Bensouda, the Hague-based prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), said she believed there is evidence to suggest war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed over a period from July 2002 to the present day. More than 10,000 civilians were said to have been killed from 2007 to 2011 alone, she said.
“Following a meticulous preliminary examination of the situation, I have come to the conclusion that all legal criteria required to commence an investigation have been met”, Ms. Bensouda said.
“There is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed,” she added.
The prosecutor did not name the specific parties she seeks to investigate. But in a report last year, ICC prosecutors said
the Taliban and its affiliates, Afghan authorities and members of the US armed forces and CIA may have committed war
crimes.
“In due course, I will file my request for judicial authorisation to open an investigation, submitting that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Afghanistan,” Bensouda said on Friday.
She added it is up to the judges of the court in The Hague to decide whether the criteria to authorize an investigation are
fulfilled.
Bensouda said that if authorization is given, her office will investigate “in an independent, impartial and objective way,
crimes within the court’s jurisdiction allegedly committed by any party to the armed conflict”.
The report by Bensouda last year said that there was a “reasonable basis to believe” US armed forces and the CIA may have subjected more than 60 detainees to “torture”.
“Members of US armed forces appear to have subjected at least 61 detained persons to torture,” the prosecutors’
office said in that report, adding that CIA members also seemed to have tortured 27 detainees in secret detention
facilities elsewhere, but not in Afghanistan.
The report said that incidents appeared to have taken place in 2003 and 2004.
The US State Department at the time said the probe was not “warranted or appropriate”. The 2016 report also said
there “is reasonable basis to believe that” crimes against humanity were committed by the Taliban and its affiliates.
It said there was a basis to believe “war crimes of torture and related ill-treatment” were carried out by Afghan
government forces.