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ICC says no to investigation into Afghanistan

ICC says no to investigation into Afghanistan

The International Criminal Court (ICC) made a correct decision by declining a request to investigate allegations of war crimes by US forces in Afghanistan, US President Donald Trump said in a statement.

The court, though, shrank from crediting the Trump-Pompeo doctrine, insisting that the prosecutor had established “a reasonable basis to consider that crimes within the ICC jurisdiction have been committed in Afghanistan and that potential cases would be admissible before the Court.” It carped instead about the time elapsed since a preliminary probe began.

The ICC is known to be considering whether to act on a request by the Palestinian Authority to investigate Israeli officials for war crimes.

"The chamber hereby decides that an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan at this stage would not serve the interests of justice and accordingly rejects the request", the decision said. In March, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that the U.S. would restrict visas of ICC staff responsible for a potential Afghanistan investigation, and Bensouda confirmed on April 5 that the USA had revoked her visa.

The Trump administration welcomed the move, which came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in mid-March that the USA would deny or revoke visas for ICC staff in response to the potential investigation. "We welcome this decision and reiterate our position that the United States holds American citizens to the highest legal and ethical standards".

Public Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda attends the trial of Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda at the ICC (International Criminal Court) in the Hague, the Netherlands August 28, 2018.

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It is "a devastating blow for victims who have suffered grave crimes without redress", said Param-Preet Singh, the worldwide justice associate director of Human Rights Watch.

"The U.S. has not joined the ICC because of its broad, unaccountable powers, and its threat to our sovereignty", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on March 15.

"The decision by the International Criminal Court's judges to reject an investigation in Afghanistan is a devastating blow for victims who have suffered grave crimes without redress", Param-Preet Singh, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

The court went on to state that the prosecutor has not obtained cooperation from Afghanistan sources, which bodes poorly for any further investigation.

"With its decision today, the International Criminal Court sends a unsafe message, that bullying wins and that the powerful won't be held to account", said Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights, headquartered in NY.

"If you are responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you still have or will get a visa or will be permitted to enter the United States", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ICC employees March 15, TIME reported. "Getting countries to cooperate with the court is a real challenge, but this decision is an invitation to governments to create hurdles to stop the ICC from acting".