The Hague, Netherland (Arab Newswire) – On Friday, 7 May 2021, the Prosecutor of the International criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”), Mrs Fatou Bensouda and her team met a high-level delegation from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at the Seat of the Court led by H.E. Mohammad Haneef Atmar, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The full day of productive discussions with the representatives of Afghanistan included the participation of officials from, inter alia, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice, the Attorney General’s Office, the Supreme Court and the National Security Department. The meeting was organised in the context of the Government of Afghanistan’s March 2020 request for the Office to defer its investigation pursuant to article 18(2) of the Rome Statute. At the meeting, detailed presentations provided further insights into investigative steps taken or planned by the national authorities in Afghanistan and an opportunity for the Office to seek clarifications on a number of discussion points.
In stressing the importance of a victims-centred approach, Prosecutor Bensouda and H.E. Minister Atmar on behalf of the Government of Afghanistan pledged to work together to achieve justice for the Afghan people by holding perpetrators of atrocity crimes accountable.
“I have great admiration for the courage and resilience of the people of Afghanistan who have withstood tremendous adversity through decades of conflict and violence. They deserve tangible justice without delay”, stated Prosecutor Bensouda. “I look forward to continuing our constructive exchanges with the Government of Afghanistan, which was exemplified by today’s discussions, as we work towards determining how justice may best be served through joint collaborative efforts with full commitment to our respective independent duties and responsibilities under the Rome Statute”, added the Prosecutor.
H.E. Minister Atmar thanked Prosecutor Bensouda for her commitment stating that ”this was a historic and very constructive meeting. The Government of Afghanistan is grateful to the ICC Prosecutor for hosting our high-level delegation to address the investigation and prosecution of all international crimes in Afghanistan” adding that “at this decisive moment for our country’s future, we have made encouraging progress in charting the way forward to ensure that no crimes will go unpunished. With our government’s unwavering commitment to human rights and justice, we are confident that with full cooperation with the Prosecutor, we can jointly advance the cause of justice for all of the victims of the long and devastating conflict.”
H.E. Mr Zabihullah Karimullah, the Attorney General of Afghanistan who also participated at the meeting added: “Our meeting with the ICC Prosecutor was very useful for discussing the constructive ways in which we can cooperate with the Office of the Prosecutor and for sharing information about the cases that Afghanistan is investigating and prosecuting at all levels. We look forward to continuing our positive exchanges and collaboration to guarantee that there will be no impunity for international crimes.”
The Office is appreciative of Afghanistan’s expressed commitment and the steps taken towards addressing accountability for atrocity crimes and securing justice for victims in Afghanistan in close collaboration with the ICC. The information and clarifications generated at the meeting will be helpful to the Office’s independent assessment of the Government of Afghanistan’s article 18(2) deferral request. The Prosecutor’s decision on that request is pending.
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; Colombia; Guinea; the Philippines; and Venezuela (I and II); and has recently completed its preliminary examinations of the situations in Ukraine and Nigeria, which are pending requests to seek authorisation to proceed to investigation.