The International Criminal Court (ICC) plans to begin a probe into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan by US-led forces, the Taliban militants, and the Afghan security apparatus.
In a Monday statement, the ICC said its Chief Investigator Fatou Bensouda would look into the crimes allegedly committed across Afghanistan since May 1, 2003 as well as any crimes linked to the US-led Afghan war that also took place outside of the Asian country since July 2002.
The US led an invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, accusing the Taliban regime in power at the time of harboring the now-slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who had claimed responsibility for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US.
“The situation in Afghanistan has been under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor since 2006,” said the statement by the ICC.
“After a comprehensive and careful scrutiny of the information available to the office, applying the applicable Rome Statute legal criteria, the prosecutor has determined that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation of the situation in Afghanistan,” it added.
According to the statement, the investigation will examine war crimes and human rights violations committed by the American and allied forces, with an additional focus on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its role in operating secret detention facilities — also referred to as “black sites” — on Afghan territory as well as in other allied countries.
The so-called black sites were used by CIA operatives to hold and interrogate suspected terrorists following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Those operatives often resorted to what the US spy agency referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a euphemism for torture.
Among the techniques used by the American interrogators was waterboarding, in which a cloth is placed over a suspect’s face and water is poured on top, creating the feeling of drowning. Other “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by US forces included stress positions and sleep deprivation.
The CIA ran black sites in Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Thailand, and Afghanistan.
The agency’s current deputy director, Gina Haspel, ran one such facility in Thailand, nicknamed the “Cat’s Eye,” and later reportedly took part in the destruction of interrogation videotapes that documented the torture of detainees at the site she ran as well as at other secret facilities.
Other parties targeted by the ICC investigation will be Afghanistan’s Taliban militants and its affiliated factions, including the Haqqani network, which also operates in Pakistan, as well as the US-trained Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), in particular the members of the National Directorate for Security (NDS) and the Afghan National Police (ANP).
The ICC, however, has no jurisdiction over the US, since Washington backed out of ratifying the Rome Statute in 2002.
Meanwhile, the court has been censured for its apparent huge overspending and poor efficiency. Despite having an annual operating budget of $170 million, the court has only managed to score four convictions — all of whom are African war criminals — prompting complaints of anti-African bias.
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