Publish dateThursday 5 March 2020 - 23:43
Story Code : 204907
US top diplomat slams ICC decision on Afghanistan probe
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out Thursday at the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding its decision to authorize a probe into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan.
Mike Pompeo calls international court 'political body,' characterize investigation as 'reckless'
Pompeo called the international court a "political body" and characterized as "reckless" the investigation that encompasses Afghan government forces, the Taliban and the U.S.
"This is a truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body," the top diplomat told reporters at the State Department. "It is all the more reckless for this ruling to come just days after the United States signed an historic peace deal on Afghanistan, which is the best chance for peace in a generation."
An ICC Pre-Trial Chamber rejected the request to open an investigation in April 2019, but Judge Piotr Hofmanski, the presiding judge in an appeals case, overruled that decision.
"Having considered the Prosecutor's grounds of appeal against the Pre-Trial Chamber's decision, as well as the observations and submissions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, representatives of victims and other participants, the Appeals Chamber found that the Pre-Trial Chamber erred in considering the 'interests of justice factor' when examining the Prosecutor's request for authorization to open an investigation," the court said in a statement.
Pompeo said the U.S. "has evidence" that suggests foreign efforts to provide the court with "misinformation," vowing Washington will "take all the appropriate actions to ensure that American citizens are not hauled before this political body to settle a political vendetta."
An announcement would likely be made "within a couple weeks," he added.
The ICC's decision comes less than a week after the U.S. and the Taliban signed a landmark deal in Doha, Qatar that lays out a timetable for full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan within 14 months.
It is expected to lead to dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan government in seeking an end to the armed conflict that began in 2001.
Pompeo slammed a recent uptick in violence in Afghanistan, saying it must be reduced "immediately for the peace process to move forward."
"While a reduction in violence is paramount we also continue to press all sides to stop posturing, start a practical discussion about prisoner releases, knuckle-down and prepare for the upcoming inter-Afghan negotiations," he said.
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