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ICC to investigate war crimes in relation to Afghanistan

At a time when many African nations are bailing out from the International Criminal Court (ICC) comes news that the ICC is undertaking an investigation to determine whether war crimes were committed in relation to Afghanistan.      The names of so-called "leaders" such as George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard, immediately come to mind.  But that would be but a great start!

"The International Criminal Court (ICC) is preparing to initiate a full investigation into potential war crimes in Afghanistan, including those committed by U.S. military personnel, Foreign Policy exclusively reported Tuesday.

The magazine writes:

Multiple sources have indicated that the chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, will seek to initiate an investigation in the coming weeks, likely after the U.S. presidential election but before the end of the year. U.S. officials visited The Hague recently to discuss the potential investigation and to express concerns about its scope.

"Is the prosecutor concerned enough about the accusations of discrimination levied against the ICC that she's willing to go after U.S. clients and U.S. officials?"


—Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies


A formal investigation of U.S. activities would be the first in the history of the ICC, to which the U.S. is not a party. But because Afghanistan is a member, an investigation is "certainly possible," Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies told Common Dreams. "Afghanistan joined the ICC in 2003, so all actions after that time are subject to ICC jurisdiction," Bennis said.

"But then you get to the question of political will," Bennis added.

The ICC has famously failed to investigate powerful Western nations while prosecuting African dictators, a disparity so glaring that several African countries recently quit the court, condemning it as the "International Caucasian Court."

"Is the prosecutor concerned enough about the accusations of discrimination levied against the ICC that she's willing to go after U.S. clients and U.S. officials?" Bennis asked.

Rights advocates hope that Bensouda may be willing to take aim at powerful nations. The prosecutor was behind the preliminary ICC report published last year, "Report on Preliminary Examination Activities" (pdf), which suggested that the U.S. was "responsible for 'physical and psychological' violence and torture that 'debased the basic human dignity' of those detained" in Afghanistan, as Common Dreams reported.

Indeed, photos released by the Pentagon earlier this year demonstrated the brutal abuse of detainees at the hands of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Bensouda may also probe the deadly bombing by U.S. forces of a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Foreign Policy reports. MSF has characterized the airstrike as a war crime, and rights groups have harshly criticized the Pentagon for its light punishment of those responsible for the attack."

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