ACLU Statement on International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Decision to “Deprioritize” Investigation of Alleged U.S. War Crimes in Afghanistan

September 27, 2021 3:15 pm

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WASHINGTON — The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced today that his office would not resume investigations into alleged crimes committed by the United States’ forces and agents in Afghanistan, and will focus on alleged crimes committed by the Taliban and the Islamic State Khorasan.

Below is a comment from Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, in response:

“The International Criminal Court is where victims of grave human rights violations turn when national legal systems fail to provide justice. We are deeply disappointed in the ICC chief prosecutor’s decision to ‘deprioritize’ investigations into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the U.S. and its allies over the course of the armed conflict in Afghanistan since May 2003. We urge the chief prosecutor to reverse this decision, which indefinitely delays victims of U.S. torture programs a measure of justice.

“By discontinuing the investigation of torture crimes committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the chief prosecutor sends a troubling message about the ICC’s ability to credibly investigate war crimes committed by agents of powerful countries and hold perpetrators responsible. We will continue to press for accountability on behalf of our clients.

“The ACLU currently represents Khaled El Masri, Suleiman Salim, and Mohamed Ben Soud — all of whom were detained and tortured in Afghanistan — before the ICC as part of its investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed over the course of the armed conflict in Afghanistan since May 2003.”

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