News Release

International Court Caving to Trump Pressure


The New York Times reports: “Hague Court Abandons Afghanistan War Crimes Inquiry.”

MARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal at, @marjoriecohn
Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She said today: “After conducting a preliminary examination, Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found ‘a reasonable basis to believe’ that ‘war crimes of torture and ill-treatment’ had been committed ‘by U.S. military forces deployed to Afghanistan and in secret detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency.’ In 2017, Bensouda recommended to the ICC’s Pretrial Chamber that it open a formal investigation, which could involve subpoenas and arrests.

“In March 2019, the U.S. announced it would revoke or deny visas to members of the ICC involved in the investigation of war crimes allegedly committed by U.S. or allied personnel in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened economic sanctions if such investigations proceed. On April 4, the U.S. made good on its threat and revoked Bensouda’s visa.

“On April 12, the Pretrial Chamber, apparently succumbing to U.S. threats, refused to authorize an investigation based not on a lack of jurisdiction or reasonable grounds, but on the ‘extremely limited’ prospects for a successful investigation and prosecution, in large part due to a demonstrated and anticipated lack of cooperation from authorities in Afghanistan and other relevant States.

“This refusal does not bode well for the prospects of international justice against war criminals not just in Afghanistan, but in Israel as well, as Bensouda continues herpreliminary examination into war crimes committed in Gaza.”

See Cohn’s pieces: “John Bolton Escalates Blackmail to Shield U.S. War Criminals” and “Lawyers Worldwide Urge International Court: Investigate Israeli Crimes.”

Also see Institute for Public Accuracy news release from last week: “Trump ICC and Iran Moves: Latest Attacks on International Law” with Prof. Francis Boyle, who filed the original complaint against Bush administration officials to the ICC and his interviews with The Real News: “Sec. of State Pompeo Protecting Bush Jr. from War Crimes Prosecution.”