1.7 Million Afghans Preparing to Sue the US for War Crimes
February 20, 2018
More than one million statements from Afghan people and organizations have been submitted to the International Criminal Court alleging war crimes were committed by several actors in the country including the US military, the CIA, Afghan forces and the Taliban, local groups working with the Hague-based tribunal. The Kabul-based Human Rights and Eradication of Violence Organization reports that 1.17 million statements have been submitted to the court over the past three months.
International Criminal Court Gets Over
1 Million Testimonies From Afghans
Suing US Government, CIA Over War Crimes
The International Criminal Court began collecting
material three months ago for a possible
war crimes case involving armed actors Afghanistan
(February 17, 2018) -- More than one million statements from Afghan people and organizations have been submitted to the International Criminal Court alleging war crimes were committed by several actors in the country including the US military, the CIA, Afghan forces and the Taliban, local groups working with the Hague-based tribunal said Friday.
Abdul Wadood Pedram, an official at the Kabul-based Human Rights and Eradication of Violence Organization, told the Associated Press Friday that his group has knowledge of the groups and individuals who submitted the 1.17 million statements to the court over the past three months.
"It is shocking there are so many," Pedram said, noting that in some instances, whole villages were represented. "It shows how the justice system in Afghanistan is not bringing justice for the victims and their families."
The ICC began accepting statements in November after the court's prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, presented a request to open a formal investigation into possible international crimes committed in Afghanistan since it became a member of the court in May 2003, few years after the US-led intervention.
The court accepted testimonies until Jan. 31 and will now evaluate the statements to decide if the war crimes investigation requested Bensouda should get the greenlight. Pedram told the AP that since in some cases one statement represents multiple people or whole village, the number of people seeking the war crimes probe could amount to several millions.
Individuals and organizations who have spoken to media over the past few months documented many cases of extrajudicial killings, torture and persecution by local and foreign actors including warlords connected to the Afghan government as well as the CIA and the US military.
Among those named in the statements, according to the BBC, is Afghan Vice-President General Abdul Rashid Dostum, currently exiled in Turkey, who has previously worked with US Special Forces and the CIA and has been linked to massacres.
Others said that Taliban commanders were in fact connected to the government and thus have received total impunity for the crimes they committed against locals, specially Shittes.
Bensouda said evidence existed of war crimes committed "by members of the United States armed forces on the territory of Afghanistan, and by members of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in secret detention facilities in Afghanistan," according to the AP report. The secret detention facilities were operated mostly between 2003 and 2004, she said.
The ICC can only prosecute countries that are party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the court in 2002. While the US is not a signatory to the statue, its citizens can be tried for crimes they committed in countries that are party to the Rome treaty.
In an article for the British newspaper The Guardian Friday, Katherine Gallagher, a senior staff attorney with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, argued that the Afghanistan case could be a test for proving the effectiveness of the young court and hoped the ICC judges would decide to approve the probe.
"To date, no high-level US official from the civilian leadership, military, CIA, or private contractor has been prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. An ICC investigation could finally change that -- bringing an end to the impunity US officials have enjoyed and, critically, some measure of redress to victims of the US torture program," Gallagher stressed.
International Criminal Court
Considers Afghan War Crime Inquiry
(February 2, 2018) -- One possible witness, 17-year-old Fatima, blames the Taliban for tearing her life apart. In July 2017, her mother Samara was killed in a Taliban suicide bombing.
The International Criminal Court, ICC, is considering submissions from victims in Afghanistan to assess whether to launch a war crimes inquiry that would seek to prosecute multiple offenders including the Taliban, CIA and Afghan forces.
Among those named is Afghan Vice-President General Abdul Rashid Dostum, currently exiled in Turkey, the BBC reports. Dostum's political rival Ahmad Eshchi has alleged that he was beaten and sodomized at the behest of the general.
"He told his guards 'Rape him until he bleeds and film it,'" Eshchi told the BBC. "They put a Kalashnikov (rifle) into my anus. I was screaming in pain."
Meanwhile, 17-year-old Fatima blames the Taliban for tearing her life apart. In July 2017, her mother Samara was killed in a Taliban suicide bombing.
"My mother fought against my other relatives and social pressure to let me join a football team and to learn the guitar," she told reporters. "She did so much for me. Now it's my turn to fight for her."
The Bagram detention center and allegations of torture being inflicted within its grounds could also feature in the trial. Set up by the United States, the center was later handed over to Afghan control. Some of the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay were also first tortured in Bagram, it has been alleged.
In an interview with the BBC, Reprieve Director Maya Foa said of the allegations: "Russian roulette with guns, men held in stress positions for days . . . . Abuses which destroyed the men both physically and mentally."
If a trial goes ahead, the ICC will examine crimes committed after May 2003, when Afghanistan signed up to the court -- a move the United States has yet to undertake.
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