ICC top prosecutor seeks probe into illegal conduct of US forces in Afghanistan

The chief prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Court has asked for permission to open an official investigation of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.

Established in 2002 under the terms of the Rome Statute, the ICC was empowered to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.  The U.S. is not a signee to the Rome Statute.

Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, formally submitted a request to the ICC judiciary to examine such charges on Monday.

In a statement Monday, Bensouda said:

“The Situation in Afghanistan has been under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor since 2006. . . . In light of the gravity of the acts committed — the details of which are outlined in the Request — and the absence of relevant national proceedings against those who appear to be most responsible for the most serious crimes within this Situation, the Prosecutor considers that the potential cases that she has identified and that would arise from an investigation in this Situation, would be admissible pursuant to article 53(1)(b) of the Statute.” 

A broad inquiry, Bensouda has asked for the investigation to include alleged war crimes perpetrated by Afghan National Security Forces, the Taliban and the Haqqani network.

The investigation would also explore the CIA’s use of secret prisons, “black sites,” which the agency operated in Afghanistan and around the globe following the attacks on Washington, D.C., and New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

Alleged crimes committed by U.S. forces according to the prosecutor include “the use of sexual violence, severe isolation, suffocation by water or waterboarding, hooding under special conditions, threats of torture and the use of dogs to induce fear.”

Describing the role of Afghan security troops, the report outlines the regular practice of torture in its prisons.

Detailing crimes allegedly committed by the Taliban, the request for a probe stated the militant group routinely committed murder against Afghan civilians believed by the group to have supported the American-backed Kabul government.

The ICC’s report, which has collected evidence for 11 years, stated the Taliban and affiliated groups killed over 17,000 Afghan non-combatants since 2009.

The CIA did not comment on the ICC’s statement.  However, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon responded, dismissing the need for a formal inquiry.

“We do not believe that an ICC examination or investigation with respect to the actions of U.S. personnel in Afghanistan is warranted or appropriate,” Pahon told reporters.


[Deutche Welle] [Financial Times] [Photo courtesy AfricaMetro]