The US may have committed war crimes of torture, cruel treatment and rape, when it interrogated dozens of people in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2004, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor says.
The International Criminal Court’s preliminary probe into the activities of the US armed forces and the CIA in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2004 shows there to be a “reasonable basis to believe that, in the course of interrogating these detainees […] members of the US armed forces and the US Central Intelligence Agency resorted to techniques amounting to the commission of the war crimes of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape,” Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said, as cited by AFP.
She discovered that most of the alleged abuses took place between 2003 and 2004, but did not cease in the following years. She also pointed out that the abuses appear to have been “approved interrogation techniques,” utilized deliberately in “an attempt to extract ‘actionable intelligence’ from detainees,” as the report states.
“These alleged crimes were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals.”
The report stated that the US Army soldiers subjected at least 61 detainees to torture practices, and CIA officers did so to at least 27 detainees, mostly between May, 2003 and December, 2004.
It highlighted some 25 of the most frequently reported methods of abuse, supposedly executed through more than 140 means, including beatings, sexual violence, deprivation of sleep and water, forced feeding and waterboarding.
“The alleged victims were typically male, with 70 percent of them aged between 18 to 34 years and 44 under the age of 18 at the time of the arrest and/or detention,” the report details.
The US military faced allegations of torture before. In December 2014, the US Senate issued the so-called ‘torture report’, which revealed that CIA officials lied to the government and public about its post-9/11 torture program, most notably by distorting records of interrogations, which used far more brutal methods than they let show. Then nearly a year ago, in late November of 2015, the US Department of Defense responded to the allegations, saying that the Department of Defense already had conducted nearly 200 investigations of detainee abuse, which led to prosecution or disciplinary action against “hundreds of service members” for “misconduct and mistreatment of detainees.”
Should formal charges be filed following Bensouda’s report, Washington may be found in violation of several ‘war crimes’ provisions of the ICC Rome Statute. However, as the United States has not ratified the Rome Statute, observers believe it is unlikely that its soldiers in foreign missions will be prosecuted.
‘Unlawful Killings’ by UK
Britain is also mentioned in the ICC probe. It says it’s looking into a total of 1,390 victim accounts it received from the NGO European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Public Interest Lawyers (PIL). It appeared that 1,071 of those accounts related to alleged ill-treatment of detainees, and another 319 suggested alleged “unlawful killings” committed by the British personnel in Iraq between 2003 and 2008.
“According to PIL, British personnel committed 319 cases of unlawful killings out of which 267 were committed in the course of military operations other than arrest and detention, and 52 were committed against persons in custody of UK authorities,” the ICC said.
In her annual “Report on Preliminary Examination Activities,” the ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda covered investigations being conducted against UK officials’ alleged “responsibility for war crimes” in Iraq between 2003 and 2008, as well as in connection with the situations in Ukraine and Palestine.