Trump claims victory as court rejects investigating United States forces

Trump claims victory as court rejects investigating United States forces

President Donald Trump on Friday celebrated a decision by the International Criminal Court to reject a request by the court's prosecutor to investigate alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan including the role of USA forces.

Due to its prioritization of investigative inquiries, the court has decided that pursuing this investigation would not be an efficient use of its resources.

The court said in a statement that the shifting Afghan political scene since then, the lack of cooperation that prosecutors have received so far and the likelihood that cooperation would diminish further if a full-blown investigation is opened combine to hamper the chances of a successful investigation and prosecutions.

"The International Criminal Court's judges' rejection of an Afghanistan investigation is a devastating blow for victims who have suffered grievous crimes without redress", said Param-Preet Singh, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch.

The International Criminal Court has announced it will not pursue an investigation into alleged war crimes by US troops and allies in Afghanistan.

Had the court made a decision to proceed with a formal investigation, it would have examined the actions of the Taliban and Afghan government as well as the United States.

President Donald Trump called the decision "a major worldwide victory, not only for these patriots, but for the rule of law".

This is in response to a request from ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in 2017, a prospect that USA officials have strongly criticized.

Human rights groups warned that the decision would have repercussions well beyond Afghanistan.

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Neither major party is expected to win majority control of the Senate, with half of the 76-seat upper house up for grabs. Labor and the coalition have already agreed to a campaign advertising truce over the Easter long weekend and Anzac Day.

When we say thats surprising, its not to suggest that our forces in Afghanistan deserve an investigation by the ICC.

In his statement, he called the ICC "illegitimate" and said it would be met with a "swift and vigorous response" if it tried to prosecute citizens of the United States or its allies.

"With its decision today, the International Criminal Court sends a risky message: that bullying wins and that the powerful won't be held to account", Center for Constitutional Rights lawyer Katherine Gallagher said, according to The New York Times.

"The United States will always protect Allied and American military and civilian personnel from living in fear from unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation", Pompeo said in a statement. In March, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced that the U.S. would restrict visas of ICC staff responsible for a potential Afghanistan investigation, and Bensouda confirmed on April 5 that the USA had revoked her visa.

In a phone interview from Kabul, she told The Associated Press that it risks emboldening the perpetrators of crimes in Afghanistan, who were "at least a little fearful" of facing justice.

This update comes just a week after the United States revoked entry visas to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who had been examining on the court's behalf the possibility of war crimes committed in Afghanistan by the United States.

While welcomed by the Trump White House, the court's decision drew outrage from a number of human rights organizations, including the United Kingdom -based group Reprieve.

The human rights situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated as the conflict has intensified in recent years.

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