Secy. Pompeo condemns increased violence in Afghanistan


Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Thursday demanded an immediate reduction in violence in Afghanistan but said he still had confidence that the Taliban were committed to a landmark agreement to end the war.

Bensouda had her USA visa revoked previous year, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that visas would be denied to ICC staff involved in investigations against US forces, according to Reuters.

US President Donald Trump has said the Taliban could "possibly" overrun the United States-backed Afghan government after foreign troops withdraw from the country as part of a deal signed last week.

Set up in 2002 with the aim of trying individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression, the ICC was meant to step in when national courts could not, or would not.

Judges are set to rule on an appeal by International Criminal Court prosecutors against a decision rejecting an investigation into atrocities committed by all sides in the Afghanistan conflict - including US forces.

However, despite the authorization, it remains to be seen if any suspects eventually indicted by prosecutors will appear in The Hague court.

In 2017, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked judges to allow a full-blown probe, not only into Taliban and Afghan government personnel but also worldwide forces, U.S. troops and members of the Central Intelligence Agency.

In a speech in 2018 on the eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Bolton said the US would use "any means necessary" to protect Americans and citizens of allied countries, like Israel, "from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court".

In a historic ruling, the International Criminal Court has opened the door to potential war crimes charges against members of the United States Armed Forces, the Taliban and other combatants in Afghanistan's armed conflict. Washington refuses to cooperate with the ICC and does not recognize its jurisdiction over United States citizens.

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The United States is not a member of the court and rejects its jurisdiction, although Afghanistan is a member.

Pompeo accused the global court of becoming a "vehicle for political vendettas", saying the multilateral body lacked oversight and responsible leadership.

"There's a big question about the government of Afghanistan", Trump said.

Since 2017, Prosecutor Bensouda has been seeking a formal investigation into the alleged crimes.

The United States and the Taliban signed an agreement on February 29 to withdraw thousands of US troops still in the country, but Washington carried out an air strike on Taliban fighters on March 4.

But the sane argument tabled by the Amnesty International holds that any peace process involving the parties to the conflict in Afghanistan need not ignore the voice of victims of the 18-year Afghan war.

"We all know who the Taliban are and what they have done to America", Pompeo said.

Legal experts following the case also welcomed the ruling. Afghan news reports say the Taliban are expected to vacate the occupied towns and cities, as well as military bases and highways.

"In authorizing this critical and much-delayed investigation into crimes in and related to Afghanistan, the court made clear that political interference in judicial proceedings will not be tolerated", noted Gallagher.