Speed Reads


The International Criminal Court says American soldiers may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan

"Members of U.S. armed forces appear to have subjected at least 61 detained persons to torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity on the territory of Afghanistan between 1 May 2003 and 31 December 2014," said a report issued Monday by the prosecutor's office of the International Criminal Court (ICC). These are allegations that American soldiers committed war crimes in the early years of the United States' longest war.

The State Department pushed back against the accusations Tuesday evening, saying an ICC probe into the actions of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is not "warranted or appropriate" and denying the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate because the United States is not party to the court. Some American military personnel have already been prosecuted for crimes in Afghanistan, including murder, and from 2009 and 2012, the Justice Department investigated CIA abuse of detainees but ultimately prosecuted no one.

If the ICC does proceed with an investigation, it is unlikely any Americans will be charged and sent to trial in The Hague. "The U.S. can prevent ICC prosecutions by undertaking a good-faith investigation and prosecution in its own military or civilian courts," explains Prof. Michael Scharf of Case Western Reserve University School of Law. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is expected to decide how to proceed soon.