Shift in ICC’s probe over Afghan war crimes baffles many


The recent announcement by Prosecutor for International Criminal Court (ICC) Karim Khan to resume investigations into war crimes in Afghanistan, after Taliban’s return to power, by excluding the earlier probes, drew strong reaction from the global rights activists.

The statement made clear the investigation would essentially exclude war crimes committed by the foreign forces and their allies in Afghanistan, Arnaud Mafille, who had assisted in filing representations for victims of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Afghanistan to the International Criminal Court, expressing his strong reservations, said in his report published in ‘The Middle East Eye’.

He further noted that the ICC had already spent 15 years looking into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan before opening a full investigation.

The ICC prosecutor had hinted “to focus my office’s investigations in Afghanistan on crimes allegedly committed by the Taliban and the Islamic State – Khorasan Province and to deprioritise other aspects of this investigation.”

According to Arnaud Mafille, in 2017, Fatou Bensouda, the previous chief prosecutor, had announced plans to start investigations into historic allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Afghanistan.

This followed a 2016 ICC report that affirmed a “reasonable basis” to believe that the US and allied forces had carried out war crimes in Afghanistan.

The ICC then issued a call to submit representations on behalf of victims, giving NGOs just two months to collect and file evidence, he added.

Patricia Gossman, Associate Asia Director for the Human Rights Watch, in her report said that Afghanistan’s 40 years of conflict had been marked by countless war crimes by different parties.—APP