The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC) on Monday asked the court for permission to restart a war crimes investigation into the actions of the Taliban and the Islamic State of Khorasan in Afghanistan.
The ICC spent 15 years investigating alleged war crimes in war-torn Afghanistan, but the investigation was suspended a year ago by the US-backed Afghan government, which said it was conducting its own investigation, before the country to fall into the hands of the Taliban last month.
The ICC is a state-of-the-art tribunal for war crimes investigations when individual member states are unable or unwilling to conduct their own investigations. The new ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, said that since the fall of the internationally recognized Kabul government, there has been a “significant change of circumstances”.
“After carefully considering the issues, I have come to the conclusion that at the moment, there is no prospect of genuine and effective investigations … within Afghanistan,” Khan said.
ICC judges will now consider Mr Khan’s request. Investigators had investigated alleged crimes by all parties to the conflict, including US forces, Afghan government troops and Taliban fighters.
Mr Khan said he wanted to focus his investigation on the actions of the Taliban and the Islamic State-Khorasan, a branch of the Islamic State terrorist group operating in Afghanistan, and no longer prioritize suspected war crimes by US forces.
The previous involvement of suspected war crimes by US forces had angered the administration of former US President Donald Trump, who imposed sanctions on Mr Khan’s predecessor, Fatou Bensouda, over the issue. The United States lifted sanctions on Ms Bensouda earlier this year under President Joe Biden.
The State Department on Monday noted the prosecutor’s announcement.
“We were very concerned about the current human rights situation in Afghanistan, and that also includes allegations of atrocities, and we certainly welcomed the efforts to ensure accountability,” Deputy State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters Monday.
“We are pleased to see that the ICC prioritizes its resources to focus on the most serious charges and atrocities,” she added.
Mr Khan said his new focus on the investigation was necessary because of the “continuing gravity, scale and nature of the crimes alleged by the Taliban and the Islamic State” and the need to “build credible (judicial) cases that can to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in a courtroom. “
The ICC prosecutor said that part of the focus of a new investigation would be the deadly August 26 attack on Kabul airport, an incident claimed by ISIS-K, in which 13 US servicemen and more were killed. more than 100 Afghan civilians.
* Some of the information for this article was obtained from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.