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Why the U.S. Can No Longer Ignore the ICC

What an Investigation Into U.S. War Crimes in Afghanistan Would Mean

Public Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda enters the court room at the International Court in The Hague, Netherlands, December 6, 2016. Peter Dejong / Reuters

On November 3, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda from The Gambia, announced that her office had “a reasonable basis to believe” that war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed by U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan, as well as members of the CIA in secret detention facilities in Poland, Lithuania, and Romania. The allegation was that they had tortured, mistreated, or raped at least 88 detainees between 2002 and December 2014.

What Bensouda’s statement means is that, based on the information the ICC has accumulated from governments, non-government organizations, and open sources, the allegations made against individual representatives of the United States pass jurisdictional muster and other legal requirements. This then enables the Office of the Prosecutor to proceed with a more active, on-the-ground investigation after a three-member panel of judges known as the Pre-Trial Chamber signs off on it. (Chances are high that it will

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