International Criminal Court judges on Friday rejected a request by the court’s prosecutor to open an investigation into possible war crimes during the conflict in Afghanistan, citing a lack of evidence and a poor outlook for state cooperation.
ICC prosecutors spent a decade examining alleged war crimes by all parties in the conflict in Afghanistan, including the possible role of U.S. personnel in relation to the detention of suspects, before opening a formal examination in November 2017.
“The chamber hereby decides that an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan at this stage would not serve the interests of justice and accordingly rejects the request,” the judges said in their decision.
“Notwithstanding the fact all the relevant requirements are met as regards both jurisdiction and admissibility, the current circumstances of the situation in Afghanistan are such as to make the prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution extremely limited.”
Kevin Jon Heller, associate professor of International Criminal law at Amsterdam University, said the decision appeared to impose significant hurdles on any case before the ICC in terms of the chances of a successful prosecution.
“If these are the criteria they are never going to open an investigation”, he said.
The United States revoked the entry visa of ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda earlier this month, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said Washington would withdraw or deny visas to ICC staff investigating such allegations against U.S. forces or their allies.