Mar 5, 2020 - World

International Criminal Court allows Afghanistan war crimes investigation

The International Criminal Court in the Hague

The International Criminal Court in The Hague. Photo: Martijn Beekman/AFP via Getty Images

International Criminal Court judges ruled on Thursday that prosecutors can open investigations into allegations of war crimes committed by the Taliban, Afghan forces and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the AP reports.

Why it matters: It's the first time that ICC judges have allowed prosecutors to investigate U.S. forces, but Washington does not recognize the court's jurisdiction and may refuse to cooperate.

  • Both the Afghan government and the U.S. have strongly opposed proposed investigations by the Hague-based court, and people indicted by prosecutors may refuse to appear.

Context: Fatou Bensouda, the ICC's chief prosecutor, requested that the court open investigations into U.S. forces in 2017, arguing that it had enough evidence to prove that they had "committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence" in Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to the New York Times.

What they're saying: "The United States is not a party to the ICC, and we will take all necessary measures to protect our citizens from this renegade court," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press conference Thursday.

  • He called the move a "truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body."

The big picture: The ruling arrived just days after the U.S. signed a deal with the Taliban to withdraw troops from the country after nearly two decades of conflict.

Go deeper: Trump speaks with Taliban leader, claims "very good" relationship

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