Expedite Probe Into Afghan War Crimes, HRW asks ICC

The ICC Prosecutor’s Office has found in its preliminary inquiry that the war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to be committed in Afghanistan even ten years after Taliban regime was toppled
Taking strong note of the incriminating findings in the November 2013 report of International Criminal Court (ICC) , global human rights watchdog body Human Rights Watch has asked the Prosecutor’s Office of the ICC to expedite its preliminary inquiry on grave international crimes committed in Afghanistan.

In its November 2013 report on Preliminary Examination Activities, the ICC Prosecutor’s Office has found that the war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to be committed in Afghanistan, despite the commitments made by different stakeholders to uphold the rule of law and fundamental rights. 

The ICC Prosecutor’s inquiry into human rights abuses in Afghanistan has taken six years, more than any other ICC inquiry in an early phase of examination. During this period, HRW has documented many cases of human rights abuses in Afghanistan.

“The ICC Prosecutor’s finding that war crimes and crimes against humanity are still being committed in Afghanistan should kick-start a full inquiry to spur justice in the country,” said Richard Dicker, International Justice Director, Human Rights Watch . “This would signal to human rights abusers in Afghanistan that they can’t evade justice forever.”

The Prosecutor’s office should expedite a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan to collect testimony and improve its information exchange with Afghan organizations, government bodies and relevant international entities, said the statement issued by HRW .

Afghanistan has been a member of ICC since 2003 . According to HRW, ICC’s commitment to reinvigorate its pursuit of possible prosecutions in Afghanistan could promote broader accountability in the country. Under the Rome Statute of the ICC , a case can be admitted before the court if the government has been, “unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution.”

The top national human rights body, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission  has also repeatedly voiced its concern over the rampant human rights abuses in Afghanistan, calling for stringent action against the perpetrators.

According to HRW, Afghan government has achieved little in its efforts to create a culture of accountability, especially concerning its own forces. The government’s ambitious Action Plan for Peace, Reconciliation and Justice , envisioned in 2005, failed to make headway, because of the sinister agendas of the Afghan government and its foreign allies. In 2007, a group of influence-peddling warlords in parliament passed the National Stability and Reconciliation Law , which gave amnesty to perpetrators of the large-scale human rights abuses committed before 2001.

“The upcoming withdrawal of international combat forces from Afghanistan heralds a broader disengagement by the international community that may dissipate the little remaining international pressure to promote accountability for serious abuses,” said the statement issued by HRW.

HRW believes the support for the ICC’s Prosecutor’s report by the Afghan government and international community is crucial to take it forward. However, it hastens to add that the cooperation is unlikely.
“The clock is ticking for the Karzai administration to put accountability on the national agenda,” Mr. Dicker said. “The government and its international supporters should endorse the ICC Prosecutor’s efforts to keep justice on the table.”

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