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Conflict Resolution

Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on the escalating violence in the Situation in Afghanistan

By August 26, 2021No Comments

I have been closely following the current developments in Afghanistan and am most concerned by recent reports of escalating violence in the country.

In particular, I echo the views expressed by the United Nations Security Council over reported incidents on the territory of Afghanistan that may amount to violations of international humanitarian law under the Rome Statute. These reports include allegations of extrajudicial executions in the form of revenge killings of detainees and individuals who surrendered, persecution of women and girls, crimes against children and other crimes affecting the civilian population at large.

I recall that pursuant to the Appeals Chamber Decision of 5 March 2020, my Office may exercise its jurisdiction over and investigate any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within the territory of Afghanistan since 1 May 2003.

Afghanistan has suffered instability and insecurity for far too long. I encourage all efforts that may prevent further loss of human life and the continued suffering of the Afghan people.

I call on all parties to the hostilities to fully respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including by ensuring the protection of civilians. I remain available and willing to engage with all parties to this end.

I end by recalling the words of the Holy Qur’an in Surah Al Ma’idah: “whosoever killed a person – …it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and whosoever gave life to one, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind. And our Messengers came to them with clear signs, yet even after that, many of them commit excesses in the land” (Ch 5, v 32).

It is timely that this admonition and injunction of the Holy Qur’an is recalled. Those values are echoed in the Rome Statute – and I hope and pray that the imperative underlying this verse and numerous other Islamic precepts fall upon the hearts of all individuals and that in this time of change and uncertainty in Afghanistan restraint and justice can be observed with a view to peaceful reconciliation.

My Office will continue to monitor the Afghanistan situation and will act, as necessary, in accordance with its responsibilities under the Rome Statute.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Since 2003, the Office has been conducting investigations in multiple situations within the ICC’s jurisdiction, namely in Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two distinct situations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d’Ivoire; Mali; Georgia, Burundi; Bangladesh/Myanmar, Afghanistan (subject to a pending article 18 deferral request) and Palestine. The Office is also currently conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Bolivia; Guinea; Venezuela I and Venezuela II; and has completed its preliminary examinations of the situations in Ukraine and Nigeria, which are pending requests to seek authorisation to proceed to investigation, and in the situation in the Philippines, which is pending judicial authorisation.

Originally published:

Karim A. A. Khan QC

Author Karim A. A. Khan QC

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