On 12 April, the International Criminal Court (ICC) dropped a probe into possible US war crimes in Afghanistan just weeks after Trump administration officials threatened to sanction and prosecute ICC judges. The ICC chamber argued that because Washington is unlikely to cooperate, a probe would not serve the "interests of justice", despite the evidence that war crimes had likely been committed.
"For those who still naively believe in the shining image of the ICC as a champion of justice, I would recommend that you look at the decision of the judges from the 12th of April this year […] My fear that after such an elegant verdict describing the ‘interests of justice’ as the ICC understands it, it will never be able to restore its reputation. With this judicial policy the investigation in respect of Libya will hardly be able to achieve any credible results", Kuzmin said on Wednesday.
Earlier, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the UNSC that the ICC may explore cases of violence against migrants in Libya. Bensouda’s appearance at UN headquarters in New York was noteworthy amid concerns of her ability to enter the country after the State Department revoked her visa in early April.
In particular, Kuzmin said that the Court has now the right to not begin an investigation if it has doubts about the viability of a probe, given the lack of cooperation of interested parties and the pressure of sanctioning against the ICC members.
Additionally, the ICC may not start an investigation if it experiences budget shortages, Kuzmin said.
"Each year the ICC becomes an ever less significant factor on the international arena. There is no momentum in its investigations, no results", Kuzmin added.
In April, the ICC rejected a request by Bensouda to launch an inquiry into allegations of war crimes committed by the US military in Afghanistan after the announcement by Washington in March to utilize economic sanctions and visa restrictions against ICC officials for recommending such an investigation. The crimes were related to US military and intelligence personnel’s activities inside Afghanistan and CIA-run black sites in Europe since 2003.
The ICC received more than 1 million statements from Afghans who say they were victims of war crimes at the hands of the Taliban, Afghan forces, terrorists, warlords, and international forces including US personnel, several media outlets reported last February.