The United States has insisted its soldiers and spies in Afghanistan are not subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court and any war crimes probe into their actions would be “unwarranted.” On Monday, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she is considering whether to launch a full investigation into allegations that US troops and CIA operators tortured Afghan prisoners between 2003 and 2004.
But Washington has not ratified the Hague-based court’s founding Rome Statute, and State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau on Tuesday said the United States thoroughly investigates allegations against its personnel.
“We have a robust national system of investigation and accountability that is as good as any country in the world,” she said. “We do not believe that an ICC examination or investigation with respect to the actions of US personnel in relation to the situation in Afghanistan is warranted or appropriate,” she added.
“As we previously noted, the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute and has not consented to ICC jurisdiction.” While the US has been leading calls for those behind atrocities in the Syrian conflict to be brought to justice in The Hague, there is no chance of any US soldiers ending up in the dock.
Last month, criticizing moves by some African countries to pull out of the court, State Department spokesman John Kirby said Washington thinks the “ICC has made valuable contributions in the service of accountability.” But it has never been suggested that the United States itself, the world’s superpower, would accept international accountability.
The administration of former president George W Bush authorized the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, including water boarding, after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Those techniques were abolished by President Barack Obama when he took over the White House in January 2009, and he has since candidly admitted “We tortured some folks,” but no CIA officer or political leader has been prosecuted.