This month, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) asked for the court’s approval in bringing war crimes charges against US Military, and CIA leaders for their barbaric occupation of Afghanistan. Members of the Taliban and Afghan officials who have been installed as puppets were also named as suspects in the death and devastation that the country has experienced.
”[T]here is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Afghanistan,” Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.
Bensouda has been pushing for high ranking military officials to be prosecuted since November of last year when she released a report about evidence of war crimes in Afghanistan.
In the report, Bensouda wrote that there is “a reasonable basis to believe the war crimes of torture and ill-treatment had been committed by US military forces deployed to Afghanistan and in secret detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, principally in the 2003-2004 period, although allegedly continuing in some cases until 2014.”
The report went on to indicate that this was not the case of a few bad apples, but a deep systematic problem.
“[These] were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals, but rather were part of approved interrogation techniques in an attempt to extract ‘actionable intelligence’ from detainees.” The report went on to say that there was “reason to believe that crimes were committed in the furtherance of a policy or policies … which would support US objectives in the conflict in Afghanistan,” the report stated.
Unfortunately, the United States Government believes that they are above the law and that they do not need to abide by the same standards that they violently impose on other countries. In the Patriot Act era of the Bush administration, the Service-Members Protection Act was passed by Congress, wherein the US government gives itself permission to “forcibly extract” any member of the US military who is held for crimes by international courts. In this decree, they also gave themselves permission to ignore the orders of international courts. This is not surprising considering that the entire Bush administration admitted to signing off on torture in the name of “national security.”
However, the rules that politicians in the United States have written down on paper are not in accordance with the established principles of international law, which state that no one is out of jurisdiction when it comes to genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Katherine Gallagher, a senior lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights pointed out that, “The long overdue message that no one is above the law is particularly important now, as the Trump administration ramps up military machinations in Afghanistan and embraces the endless war with no plan in sight.”
Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, said that regardless of the outcome, official war crimes charges would have a positive impact on future conflicts.
“It would send a clear signal to the Trump administration and other countries around the world that torture is categorically prohibited, even in times of war, and there will be consequences for authorizing and committing acts of torture,” Dakwar said.
Since 2001, over 31,000 civilians were killed in the war in Afghanistan, with another 29,900 wounded, and this doesn’t even count the thousands of people who have been forced into fighting to defend their neighborhoods from an occupying army. It is estimated that roughly 111,000 Afghans have been killed in the conflict since it began.