From Reprieve.org.uk, June 10, 2019
A group of men who suffered torture and mistreatment at the hands of US forces in Afghanistan have appealed against the International Criminal Court’s decision not to launch an investigation into war crimes committed during the Afghan conflict.
The appeal was filed jointly by Reprieve and the Centre for Constitutional Rights. Reprieve had previously submitted victim representations on behalf of three of the men, who were imprisoned at US-run facilities in Afghanistan as part of the ‘war on terror’.
In April this year, ICC judges admitted that there is “a reasonable basis to consider that crimes within the ICC jurisdiction have been committed in Afghanistan” but cited the likely difficulties in investigating the crimes, including the expected lack of cooperation from relevant states in denying the investigation.
The ICC’s decision not to investigate came after the US revoked prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s entry visa, and high-ranking government officials threatened that ICC officials could be criminally prosecuted if the investigation proceeded. Responding to the ICC’s decision in a statement, US President Donald Trump called the decision “a major international victory” and said that the court would be met with a “swift and vigorous response” if it tried to prosecute citizens of the US or its allies.
Katie Taylor, Deputy Director at Reprieve, said:
“Survivors of war-on-terror era torture have waited seventeen years for some semblance of justice – which has so far been wholly denied. For many, the ordeal that began in Afghanistan continues, with no end in sight, at Guantánamo Bay. For the ICC to fold up its investigation, under pressure from the US, puts its credibility at risk. The court must recognise that these victims have a right to be heard.”