Press Statement: 18th April 2019
On the 12th of April 2019, the Pre Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court declined the request of the Prosecutor to open an investigation for alleged Rome Statute Crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan.
Earlier in November 2017, the ICC Prosecutor by virtue of article 15 had requested authorization from Pre-Trial chambers to open an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to the armed conflict in Afghanistan since 1 May 2003, as well as other similar crimes related to the armed conflict in Afghanistan. The news about the refusal have left many devastated and hopes for justice dashed to the wall.
The ANICJ condemns the decision by the Pre-trial chamber as not in the interest of justice. The reasons behind the decisions are more so unbelievable. Although it is clear that state cooperation plays a paramount role in investigations of this nature, especially when the country in question is not a state party, but the fact that the Pretrial Chambers had to include other non-legal factors like budget constraint and assumptions on the feasibility of gaining evidence goes to no issue. The International Criminal Court is not known for cherry-picking cases. The main focus has always been to punish perpetrators of atrocious crimes.
Regarding the PTC’s view of the delayed time in closing the preliminary Examination, The Rome Statute is silent on that and the lacuna should not be used against the virtue of the Court. All hands should be on deck to support the office of the Prosecutor.
The ANICJ calls on the ICC prosecutor to appeal this decision by the Pretrial chambers and ensure that justice is done. The OTP should not bow down to pressures at this time. The main essence of international criminal justice is that impunity should not be encouraged in any part of the world. A refusal to open investigation in Afghanistan is an insult to the credibility of the International Criminal Court
We will not forget the Afghanistan victim’s memory box at the 17th annual session of the ASP to the Rome Statute and the side event that depicted the suffering and crimes the people of Afghanistan went through. The least the ICC can do for them is to get justice.