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International court says it's 'undeterred' by US threats

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Afghan rights workers today warned a blistering U.S. attack on the International Criminal Court investigating war crimes allegations will strengthen a climate of impunity in Afghanistan, prolong the war and embolden those committing acts of violence.

In a speech Monday, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Washington would not cooperate with The Hague-based court and threatened it with sanctions, saying it put U.S. sovereignty and national security at risk.

The CIA and U.S. forces have been accused of committing war crimes in Afghanistan.

"It's very unfortunate because delivering justice to victims will help to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan," said Sima Samar, head of Afghanistan's Human Rights Commission. "Justice is not a luxury. It is a basic human right."

In The Hague, the ICC said it will continue to do its work "undeterred," despite Bolton's condemnation.

The court said in a statement it was established by a treaty supported by 123 countries. It says it prosecuted cases only when those countries failed to do so or did not do so "genuinely." Afghanistan is a signatory.

During a three-month period that ended in January, the court received a staggering 1.7 million allegations of war crimes from Afghanistan, although some of those accusations involved entire villages.

Still, thousands of individual statements as well as those filed on behalf of multiple victims were received by the ICC in The Hague. The statements were collected by organizations based in Europe and Afghanistan.