Den Haag Prosecutors Request Extended Afghan War Crimes Investigation

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on Monday requested the court’s permission to continue its war crimes investigation into the actions of the Taliban and the Islamic State group-Khorasan in Afghanistan.

The ICC has for 15 years investigated alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, but that investigation was put on hold a year ago by the US-backed Afghan government. The Afghan government at the time said it was conducting its own investigation before power fell to the Taliban last month.

The ICC is a last resort for war crimes investigations, when individual member states are unable or unwilling to carry out their own investigations. New ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said there had been a “significant change in the situation” since Kabul’s internationally recognized government was overthrown.

“After careful review of the matter, I conclude that at present, there is no longer any prospect of an honest and effective domestic investigation … in Afghanistan,” Khan said.

ICC judges will now consider Khan’s request. Investigators have examined allegations of crime by all parties to the conflict, including U.S. forces, Afghan government forces and the Taliban.

Khan said he wanted to focus his investigation on the actions of the Taliban and ISIS-Khorasan, the offshoot of the Islamic State terrorist group operating in Afghanistan, and “de-prioritize” alleged war crimes by US forces.

Previous allegations of war crimes involving US troops have angered the administration of former US President Donald Trump, which sanctioned Khan’s predecessor, Fatou Bensouda, over the matter. Through the administration of President Joe Biden, the US lifted sanctions on Bensouda earlier this year.

The US State Department said Monday it had heard the prosecutor’s announcement. (jm/my)

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