ICC: No war crimes probe of U.S. for torture in Afghanistan

The ICC's decision to block a full criminal probe of the US could help Israel argue for the same result.

By
April 13, 2019 21:35
2 minute read.
Afghan National Army (ANA) officers take part in a training exercise

Afghan National Army (ANA) officers take part in a training exercise at the Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC) in Kabul, Afghanistan October 17, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/OMAR SOBHANI)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

In a blockbuster decision, the International Criminal Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber II on Friday unanimously rejected the request of the ICC Prosecutor to criminally probe the US for war crimes torture allegations relating to its conduct in Afghanistan with detainees in the years following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.


While not directly related, the decision could potentially help Israel avoid an ICC criminal probe in the future.
The judges decided that “an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan at this stage would not serve the interests of justice.”


Ruling on the case were Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua, who will be writing a separate opinion, as well as Judge Tomoko Akane and Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala.


On November 20, 2017, the ICC prosecutor filed a request with the ICC Pre-Trial judges to initiate a full criminal investigation into torture allegations. The ICC prosecutor asserted that the torture allegations could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity for US conduct in Afghanistan since May 2003, and for related US conduct in other countries.


In its Friday decision, the ICC said that it had “thoroughly checked the information submitted by the prosecutor and considered that the request establishes a reasonable basis to consider that crimes within the ICC jurisdiction have been committed in Afghanistan and that potential cases would be admissible before the court.“


However, the ICC rejected prosecuting the American soldiers due to the time elapsed since the a preliminary probe was opened in 2006, “the political changing scene in Afghanistan... 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 the need for the court to use its resources prioritizing activities that would have better chances to succeed.”


Recently, the US revoked the visa of ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and threatened additional retaliatory actions against the ICC if the judges had approved prosecuting the US.


Depending on whether Bensouda decides to appeal the ruling to the ICC Appeals Chamber or to accept the decision, the crisis between the US and the ICC may now blow over.


Israel has faced a preliminary probe for war crimes relating to the 2014 Gaza War since January 2015, and the ICC Prosecutor is expected to make a decision in the coming year or less about whether to go after Israel with a full criminal probe.


The ICC’s decision to block a full criminal probe of the US could help Israel argue for the same result.


The US has rejected the ICC’s attention as improper, saying that it has performed its own probes of the torture allegations.


Israel has and will make the same argument: that it has probed any war crimes allegations against its soldiers.


In a statement Friday, President Donald Trump said that “Since the creation of the ICC, the United States has consistently declined to join the court because of its broad, unaccountable prosecutorial powers; the threat it poses to American national sovereignty; and other deficiencies that render it illegitimate,” the White House said in a statement it attributed to Trump. “Any attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution will be met with a swift and vigorous response.”


It’s the second time that the Trump administration has extended its vow to protect allies from the court explicitly to Israelis, according to the JTA. Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said ICC officials who prosecute Americans or Israelis would be denied entry into the United States.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands before their one-on-one
April 22, 2019
Disconnecting N. Korea and Iran - ANALYSIS

By YONAH JEREMY BOB