Campaigners raise concerns against The Hague-based court’s plan to exclude US forces from war crimes investigation.
The British legal campaign group Reprieve is among those who submitted representations on behalf of clients claiming to have been tortured by the CIA in the infamous Bagram prison or of relatives of civilians allegedly killed in US drone attacks. Their claims risk being left out of the investigation.
“This was clearly a political decision – there’s really no other way it can be interpreted,” Jennifer Gibson, a US lawyer who leads Reprieve’s work on drones, told Al Jazeera. “It gave the US and their allies a get out of jail free card.”
According to Gibson, the ICC prosecutor is placing high up on the agenda attacks such as that on Kabul airport in the waning days of the US withdrawal, but ignoring instances like the US drone attack that killed a family of 10, including seven children, soon afterwards. Reprieve claims this was one of many drone attacks taken on faulty intelligence.
“The damage his decision has caused is immense,” Gibson said. “It is devastating for the thousands of victims who have essentially been told you don’t count because the crimes against you were committed by the West and its allies. In delivering the message, [the prosecutor] has effectively slammed the door on the last hope many of these individuals had for some form of accountability.”
The US troops and its intelligence operatives have been accused of war crimes dating back to 2002, but no meaningful actions have been taken by US courts. The US withdrew its troops from Afghanistan in August after 20 years – ending its longest war. Read the full story on Al Jazeera.