The Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a statement on Tuesday said that the delay in a critical International Criminal Court (ICC) ruling has protracted the wait of Afghans seeking some measure of justice for grave international crimes.
The rights body called for the court’s judges to rule soon looking at the latest submission by the office of the current prosecutor, Karim Khan, filed in favour of launching an investigation, arguing that the Taliban, who now control the country, “are not continuing, cannot continue and will not continue” relevant national justice efforts.
“In the 16 years since the court’s prosecutor first began considering potential cases in Afghanistan, the conflict in Afghanistan has been marked by a laundry list of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity,” it added.
Stating that Afghan people have waited far too long for justice, the HRW said that serious abuses – some of which may amount to crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction – continue in Afghanistan. “In recent months, it has documented extrajudicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances, and sweeping violations of the rights of women and girls by the Taliban. The ISKP has also escalated attacks against the Hazara and Shia communities,” it said.
In March 2020, following a years-long preliminary inquiry, ICC judges authorized the ICC Office of the Prosecutor to begin an investigation. However, the investigation was paused one month later when the former Afghan government requested to defer to their own investigations.
Citing the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, Khan in September 2021 requested permission from the court’s judges to resume an investigation. Nearly a year later, and after a limited process to consider the views of victims, the judges have yet to address the merits of whether an investigation should go forward, said Human Rights Watch.