The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda has called for an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan.
Following a preliminary investigation that has lasted more than a decade, Bensouda released a statement where she said that “there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed”.
She is expected to examine the activities of all parties involved- the Taliban, Afghan government and US troops since May 2003.
Speaking to the BBC, Bensouda said she would give weight to “allegations from all parties” and that she was acting with the “utmost impartiality and independence”.
Investigations thus far have covered issues such as attacks on civilians and extra-judicial executions. “Following a meticulous preliminary examination of the situation, I have come to the conclusion that all legal criteria required to commence an investigation have been met”, Bensouda said.
The International Criminal Court’s judges have been asked for permission to open a formal investigation. Approval would open up the possibility of US nationals being held accountable for alleged war crimes. An ICC report had earlier indicated that US forces had tortured people at secret detention facilities and also pointed to allegations of war crimes on the part of the Afghan government and Taliban.
While the US is not a member of the ICC, Bensouda has a mandate to investigate the behaviour of US citizens as the alleged crimes took place in Afghanistan- a country which is a member of the ICC.
Human Rights Watch has expressed approval for the decision, with a spokesman saying that “having documented egregious crimes in Afghanistan that have gone unpunished over many years, we hope this step will open a path to justice for countless victims there.”