Today, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or "the Court"), Fatou Bensouda, requested authorisation from the Court's Judges to initiate an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed in the context of the ongoing armed conflict in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan ("Afghanistan").
The Situation in Afghanistan has been under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor since 2006. 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.
As required by the Statute, the Prosecutor has, therefore, requested authorisation from Pre-Trial Chamber III, for an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan in the period from 1 May 2003, as well as other alleged crimes linked to the armed conflict in Afghanistan and committed on the territory of other States Parties to the Statute, since 1 July 2002. The Court does not have jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed in the context of the Situation in Afghanistan before these cut-off dates.
As a result of its examination, the Office of the Prosecutor has determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the following categories of crimes within the Court's jurisdiction have occurred:
- i. Crimes against humanity and war crimes by the Taliban and their affiliated Haqqani Network;
- ii. War crimes by the Afghan National Security Forces ("ANSF"), in particular, members of the National Directorate for Security ("NDS'") and the Afghan National Police ("ANP"), and
- iii. War crimes by members of the United States ("US") armed forces on the territory of Afghanistan, and by members of the US Central Intelligence Agency ("CIA") in secret detention facilities in Afghanistan and on the territory of other States Parties to the Rome Statute, principally in the period of 2003-2004.
The Office has carefully assessed available information on any relevant, genuine national proceedings in relation to the conduct of these identified groups. In light of the gravity of the acts committed - the details of which are outlined in the Request - and the absence of relevant national proceedings against those who appear to be most responsible for the most serious crimes within this Situation, the Prosecutor considers that the potential cases that she has identified and that would arise from an investigation in this Situation, would be admissible pursuant to article 53(1)(b) of the Statute.
Furthermore, the Office has determined that there are no substantial reasons to believe that the opening of an investigation would not serve the interests of justice, taking into account the gravity of the crimes and the interests of victims.
Today, as per the applicable rules, the Prosecutor also
notified victims or their legal representatives, of her intention to request authorisation to initiate an investigation in the Situation in Afghanistan informing them that they have until 31 January 2018 to submit representations to the Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber III on her Request.
If the Pre-Trial Chamber authorises the Prosecutor to begin an investigation, as mandated by the Rome Statute, the Office's sole objective will be to independently, impartially and objectively investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed in the context of the conflict in Afghanistan.
Based on the evidence collected by the Office during the course of an investigation, if authorised, the Prosecutor can request ICC Judges to issue either summons to appear or arrest warrants, against those, as a rule, believed to be most responsible, no matter who the perpetrator, for alleged atrocity crimes committed in connection with the Situation in Afghanistan.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecution of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Office has been conducting investigations in: Burundi; Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two separate investigations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d'Ivoire, Mali and Georgia. The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan; the registered vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia; Colombia; Gabon; Guinea; Iraq/UK; Palestine, Nigeria and Ukraine.