AMSTERDAM: The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled that the prosecutor can open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan by foreign forces.
It may be recalled that the ICC last year had rejected a demand by its chief prosecutor to look into crimes committed in the war-torn nation — an investigation also bitterly opposed by Washington.
It is pertinent to mention here that the United States is not a member of the court and rejects its jurisdiction, while Afghanistan is a member of the organization.
BACKGROUND: On 20 November 2017, the Prosecutor requested authorisation from Pre-Trial Judges to initiate an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to the armed conflict in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since 1 May 2003, as well as regarding similar crimes related to the armed conflict in Afghanistan allegedly committed in the territory of other States Parties to the Rome Statute since 1 July 2002.
On 12 April 2019, Pre-Trial Chamber II had rejected unanimously the request of the Prosecutor to proceed with an investigation on alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on the territory of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
On 17 September 2019, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II granted in part the request of the Prosecutor for Leave to Appeal the “Decision Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute on the Authorisation of an Investigation into the Situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan“. On 4-6 December 2019, the Appeals Chamber held a hearing to receive oral arguments in this appeal.