The International Criminal Court unanimously decided last Friday to reject a request from the prosecutor to investigate alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes in Afghanistan, according to an ICC press release. Judges who heard the prosecutor’s case said that the investigation would not serve the interests of the victims.
The case originally appeared before the Court in 2017, when a prosecutor began the process of initiating an investigation into the alleged crimes. Most of the crimes were in relation to the armed conflict in Afghanistan that date back to 2003. The ICC said the request established a sound basis to consider that crimes had in fact been committed in Afghanistan. Additionally, the Court said the potential cases for the crimes would theoretically be admissible. However, the ICC decided not to continue with the case for a variety of reasons.
“The Chamber noted the time elapsed since the opening of the preliminary examination in 2006 and the political changing scene in Afghanistan since then, the lack of cooperation that the Prosecutor has received and which is likely to go scarcer should an investigation be authorised hampering the chances of successful investigation and prosecution, as well as the need for the Court to use its resources prioritising activities that would have better chances to succeed,” the press release said.
Over 600 victims of the crimes said they favoured an investigation aimed at bringing the perpetrators to justice. But the Court believes continuing with the investigation will not benefit the victims. “Accordingly, it is unlikely that pursuing an investigation would result in meeting the objectives listed by the victims favouring the investigation, or otherwise positively contributing to it,” the press release said. “This, far from honouring the victims’ wishes and aspirations that justice be done, would result in creating frustration and possibly hostility vis-a-vis the Court.”