16:17 GMT01 December 2020
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    Recently, the International Criminal Court (ICC) said that it would launch an investigation of war crimes in Afghanistan. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Kevin Jon Heller, professor of Criminal law at SOAS, University of London.

    The thorough ICC investigation is supposed to cover a wide range of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, including those which could have been committed by US personnel, Afghan nationals and the Taliban.

    "Any individual who committed an international crime on the territory of Afghanistan in a relevant time period could be prosecuted," Heller told Sputnik.

    According to the expert, the investigation is supposed to include crimes committed by the Taliban as well as "US torture and inhuman treatment in detention facilities." The horrible attack on the hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, which killed 42 people and which was supposedly carried out by the US will also be a subject to investigation.

    "Again, any crime committed on Afghan territory will be within the jurisdiction of the court."

    At the same, Heller noted that the ICC could face a lot of practical difficulties during the investigation. In particular, one of the main problems is that the court is completely dependent "on the good will of states."

    "As we have seen over a 40-year history of the ICC, most governments are perfectly willing to help the ICC investigate rebels, deposed former leaders; they are willing to help them investigate their enemies. But when it comes to actually investigating government officials themselves, states all of a sudden become a lot less cooperative," the expert stated.

    Heller then continued saying that "If the ICC would go after the Taliban who are now rebels, the Afghan government and the US government will be more than willing to help the ICC to investigate."

    "But if, in fact, they were to go after sitting Afghan government officials or if they are going after American soldiers, I think you'd see a lot less cooperation," the expert stated. "There will be a lot of obstacles in the way of actually getting an American soldier or American military commander to the dock of the ICC," he added.

    The US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan formally ended its operations in December 2014 after having a presence in the country since 2001 to help local authorities to defeat the Taliban. Afghanistan, however, continues to be in political and social turmoil as jihadist groups are taking advantage of the instability in the country.

    The investigation is expected to start in coming weeks- after the US presidential elections, but before the end of the year. Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia welcomes the potential International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation of war crimes in Afghanistan, including those committed by the US.


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    investigation, war crimes, International Criminal Court (ICC), US, Afghanistan
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