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World ICC appeals judges to rule on Afghan war crimes investigation

08:50  05 march  2020
08:50  05 march  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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Prosecutors appealed the ruling , and the appeals judges at the court ruled on Thursday that the pretrial chamber had erred. “The prosecutor is authorized to commence an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, as well as other alleged crimes that have a It remained unclear how prosecutors would further investigate the allegations without the cooperation of the Trump administration or the Afghan government. Afghan officials have objected to the inquiry, arguing that they had set up their own special unit to look into possible war crimes .

The International Criminal Court ( ICC ) has approved a probe into alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan by the US and other parties, potentially exposing Washington to legal repercussions for its nearly 20-year occupation. Hailed as a landmark ruling , the panel of judges at The Hague reversed a decision by the court's Pre-Trial Chamber denying the ICC prosecutor's request to open a formal inquiry into crimes committed in connection with the conflict in Afghanistan . The previous decision not to pursue an investigation was reportedly influenced by the belief that the United States would not

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - International Criminal Court appeals judges will on Thursday rule whether the ICC's prosecutor can investigate allegations of war crimes by U.S. and other forces in Afghanistan's conflict, a case that has triggered diplomatic retaliation by Washington.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. troops assess the damage to an armoured vehicle of NATO-led military coalition after a suicide attack in Kandahar province © Reuters/Ahmad Nadeem FILE PHOTO: U.S. troops assess the damage to an armoured vehicle of NATO-led military coalition after a suicide attack in Kandahar province

A lower chamber at the ICC last April rejected lead prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's request to open an official inquiry into alleged atrocities by all parties in the conflict including U.S. troops, Afghan government forces and Taliban militants.

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Senior judges at the international criminal court have authorised an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan , overturning an earlier rejection of the inquiry. The ICC investigation will look at actions by US, Afghan and Taliban troops. “All the more reckless for this ruling to come just days after the United States signed a historic peace deal on Afghanistan , which is the best chance for peace in a generation.” The ICC judges also approved that the scope of the investigation should include CIA black sites operated in Poland, Lithuania, and Romania, where

The investigation will look into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan committed by the Taliban, Afghan National Security Forces, and the U.S. military. 1m24s. ICC Judges Reject Request To Investigate War Crimes In Afghanistan .

The prosecutor has asked the appeals panel to overturn that decision. In their ruling, the judges said they were blocking her request because the chance of a successful prosecution was small due to a lack of cooperation from Kabul and other "key states" including the United States.

A preliminary examination of the conflict in Afghanistan has been ongoing at the ICC since 2006.

In response to the case, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration imposed travel restrictions and other sanctions against ICC employees a year ago.

Bensouda believes there are grounds to open an investigation into abuses committed between 2003 and 2014, including alleged mass killings of civilians by the Taliban, as well as the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities and to a lesser extent by U.S. forces and the CIA.

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“The Appeals Chamber found that the Prosecutor is authorised to investigate …the crimes alleged to have been committed on the territory of Afghanistan since 1 May 2003,” the ICC said in a statement, “as well as other alleged crimes that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan and are sufficiently linked to the For the purposes of its investigation , the ICC Prosecutor can request that the court ’s judges issue summons to appear or arrest warrants “no matter who the perpetrator”, for alleged atrocity crimes committed in connection with the Situation in Afghanistan , her Office said.

The International Criminal Court ( ICC ) has rejected its prosecutor's request to investigate alleged war crimes in Afghanistan . That was thought to have been in response to her request to investigate possible crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan . Explaining their unanimous decision, the three ICC pre-trial chamber judges said such an investigation "would not serve the interests of justice". Mr Trump said it was a victory "not only for these patriots, but for the rule of law".

U.S. forces and other foreign troops entered Afghanistan in 2001 after the Sept. 11 al Qaeda attacks on the United States and overthrew the Taliban government, which had been protecting al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

In what has become the United States' longest war, about 13,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan.

The United States and the Taliban signed an agreement on Saturday to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops still in the country, but Washington carried out an air strike on Taliban fighters on Wednesday.

The ICC, which began operations in The Hague in 2002, is a court of last resort for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity when committed by nationals of a signatory state, or if they took place on the territory of one of its member states. Afghanistan is an ICC member; the United States is not.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Jonathan Oatis)

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This is interesting!