ICC Prosecutor Requests to Resume Investigation of War Crimes in Afghanistan

International Criminal Court (ICC)
International Criminal Court (ICC)

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan said on Monday he has asked the court to let him resume the inquiry into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan as he does not find the new authorities in Kabul fit to litigate independently.

“Today, I filed an application for an expedited order before Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC seeking authorization for my Office to resume its investigation in the Situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” Khan said in a statement.

The prosecutor’s office started the Afghan investigation on March 5, 2020. Three weeks later, government asked the ICC to let it investigate the crimes on its own and the court agreed. Khan praised the former government for its effort but called into question the ability of the new government to ensure an “adequate and effective” continuation of the probe.

“Recent developments in Afghanistan and the change in the national authorities, represent a significant change of circumstances with import for our ongoing assessment of the deferral request. After reviewing matters carefully, I have reached the conclusion that, at this time, there is no longer the prospect of genuine and effective domestic investigations into Article 5 crimes within Afghanistan,” the prosecutor said.

He expressed readiness, however, to “constructively engage” with the new government “in accordance with the principle of complementarity.”

The Taliban (designated terrorist and banned in Russia) formed an interim government in Afghanistan earlier this month. The ICC hopes to investigate the atrocities committed by the Islamist movement in the years preceding its takeover in August, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians, targeted extrajudicial executions, persecution of women and girls, and crimes against children.

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