While government whistleblowers and subversive journalists languish in prison or are on the run, state crimes — especially those perpetrated by western governments and high officials — not only go unpunished but don't even warrant investigation apparently. International Criminal Court judges ruled on Friday to reject a request by the court’s prosecutor to investigate possible war crimes by the US-led coalition during the war in Afghanistan.
The ICC judge claimed a lack of evidence and a poor outlook for state cooperation — the latter reason essentially meaning the US and UK have already condemned the prospect of opening such an investigation.
The ICC had previously vowed to continue to operate "undeterred" by any US threat of punitive action against the ICC when it first considered examining allegations that US personnel committed war crimes, including instances of unlawful detention and torture of Afghans, as well as killing of civilians. The window of time ICC prosecutors considered for their investigation ran from May 2003, within the opening years of the US occupation, to 2017.
“The chamber hereby decides that an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan at this stage would not serve the interests of justice and accordingly rejects the request,” the judges said in their decision, as cited by Reuters. But the obvious first question is: whose interests are being served here?
The ruling to reject inquiry into any misconduct by US or allied coalition personnel continued: “Notwithstanding the fact all the relevant requirements are met as regards both jurisdiction and admissibility, the current circumstances of the situation in Afghanistan are such as to make the prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution extremely limited,” the judges stated.
Reuters cited an ICC court expert to note this essentially means the United States will never be investigated by these standards:
Kevin Jon Heller, associate professor of International Criminal law at Amsterdam University, said the decision appeared to impose significant hurdles on any case before the ICC in terms of the chances of a successful prosecution.
“If these are the criteria they are never going to open an investigation”, he said.
Last month the US threatened to revoke visas for members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague should they so much as investigate any criminal actions of American military personnel. The United States has never been a member of the ICC and considers it without authority over matters related to Americans or allies conducting joint operations.
Direct US threats work wonders apparently... case closed:
Sec. Mike Pompeo: "I'm announcing a policy of US visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of US personnel. This includes persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation." https://t.co/kWuVYMhSGY pic.twitter.com/6p8mjxlNUY— The Hill (@thehill) March 15, 2019
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a scathing rebuke on March 15 following initial ICC statements that the world court would look investigate US crimes in Afghanistan, and as pressure also mounted for the court to bring cases against Israel for human rights crimes against Palestinians. “We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation,” Pompeo said at the time.
Pompeo also went to far as to specifically address ICC members and employees: “If you are responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of U.S. personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you still have or will get a visa or will be permitted to enter the United States,” he said during the March statements.
He also warned about potential economic sanctions against member and host nations "if the ICC does not change its course."
But Friday's bombshell decision to close the door on any ICC case brought against western coalition forces in Afghanistan was perhaps to be expected, as the pattern has long been of only third world, African, and Balkan warlords actually being brought to justice at the Hague, and never western officials.