ICC may try US for war crimes in Afghanistan

A report issued by the Hague-based International Criminal Court has evidence of possible torture committed by both the US military and the CIA.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

The ICC report found the instances that could constitute torture were committed mainly in the period between 2003 and 2004.

International Criminal Court prosecutors say there is "reasonable basis to believe" that the United States may have committed war crimes during their interrogation of detainees in Afghanistan.

The report, issued Monday, marks the first official international inquiry into possible war crimes committed by foreign forces in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001. 

The ICC says up to 88 inmates, held in secret detention centres, may have been tortured by the US military and CIA between 2003 and 2004.

"These alleged crimes were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals," the report said. "They appear to have been committed as part of approved interrogation techniques in an attempt to extract 'actionable intelligence'."

According to the report, crimes may have also been committed outside Afghanistan, after individuals captured in the country were relocated to other locations in Poland, Lithuania and Romania.

Villagers in the northern province of Kunduz accused the US of killing more than 30 civilians in a series of air strikes targeting the Taliban. (Reuters)

The court said they will decide “imminently” whether a full-scale investigation will be conducted.

If the ICC, known as the court of last resort, decides to take action it may prove a complicated process. The United States is not a participant in the court.

However, Afghanistan — which joined in 2003 — Lithuania, Poland and Romania are all members, which gives the court jurisdiction over crimes committed on their territories.

As per its mandate, the court can only bring forth official charges if domestic authorities do not deal adequately with allegations.

In 2014, the Kabul government signed a bilateral security agreement with Washington which would provide US soldiers with immunity from prosecution.

The court’s findings seem to corroborate an earlier US investigation into the CIA's detention and interrogation programme in the country from 2001 to 2006. Excerpts from that report, which also found evidence of possible torture, were released by the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2014.

The ICC may also open investigations into possible abuses by other parties to the war, including the Afghan National Security Forces and the armed opposition.

TRTWorld and agencies