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Hague International Court Hears Afghanistan Probe Appeal

04 Dec 2019 Radio Free Europe

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has stated hearing an appeal against an earlier decision to reject a request to open an investigation into possible war crimes and other abuses committed during the conflict in Afghanistan.

Fergal Gaynor, a lawyer representing dozens of alleged Afghan victims, told the ICC’s Appeals Chamber in The Hague on December 4 that the court is "the only jurisdiction in the world...that can offer the victims a prompt and impartial investigation into the brutal crimes committed against them."

The hearing by the five-judge panel is to last three days.

In April, judges unanimously turned down a request made by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to proceed with a probe into crimes allegedly committed by the Taliban, Afghan security forces, and the U.S. military and intelligence agencies.

In a ruling condemned by victims and rights groups, the judges said that an inquiry "would not serve the interests of justice" because it would likely fail due to lack of cooperation.

Human Rights Watch warned that the decision "sends a dangerous message to perpetrators that they can put themselves beyond the reach of the law just by being uncooperative."

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the ruling, calling it "a major international victory…for the rule of law."

In November 2017, Bensouda asked judges to initiate an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan since May 2003.

Washington has said it would revoke or deny visas to ICC staff seeking to investigate the allegations of abuses.

The United States is among dozens of countries that have not ratified the Rome treaty that established the ICC in 2002.

With reporting by AP
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