Afghan human rights organizations demand ICC investigation despite Afghan government assurances

The Hague, December 06, 2019, The Transitional Justice Coordination Group (TJCG) is calling on International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation in Afghanistan. While the Afghan Government has appeared before the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and has asked the ICC to not open an investigation into the many war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan.

The Transitional Justice Coordination Group (TJCG), composed of 26 Afghan human rights organizations based in Afghanistan, strongly disagrees with the Afghan Government’s position. TJCG calls on all State Parties to fulfill their state cooperation obligations and to ensure that an investigation occurs under the current circumstances in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Government contends that it has the intention and capacity to pursue domestic prosecutions and that ICC intervention is not in the interests of peace in Afghanistan and should be rejected.    

 “The Afghan Government says it can effectively arrest and prosecute war crimes in Afghanistan. But it has not done so for the last 40 years, and the changes it points to do not go to the heart of the matter. The Afghan government lacks capacity to do what it says it wants to do. The ICC is the last resort for Afghan victims, we ask that we not be abandoned,” said Horia Mosadiq of TJCG.

Further, Zia Moballegh of TJCG said “The Afghan Government says justice will come after peace. This has been a justification by previous governments to avoid justice and accountability but, we are not willing to wait longer for an impossible peace.”

TJCJ members note that despite the rosy picture painted by the Afghan Government, the reality on the ground in Afghanistan is that Afghans continue to suffer and are being denied both peace and justice. The TJCG believes that the prevailing impunity status enjoyed by perpetrators is the direct result of ignoring justice for the many Afghan victims.   

Noted during the proceedings before the Appeals Chambers today was the suggestion that reviewing the Afghanistan situation is costing the ICC too much money. It would be a travesty of justice, with justice being the very mandate of ASP and the ICC, if monetary concerns destroyed the ability for Afghan victims an opportunity for some measure of justice.

“We call on the Assembly of State Parties to address any budgeting concerns by allocating funds for an investigation in Afghanistan. Monetary concerns that can be addressed should not be used to take from Afghans the benefit of the Rome Statute,” said Ehsan Qaane of TJCG.

“Afghan government, does not have the capacity to deliver justice and the Afghan people should not have to wait another 40 years for justice, it is in the hands of State Parties to ensure that the mandate of the ICC be fulfilled,” said Aziz Rafiee of TJCG.