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ICC prosecutor signals charges against US armed forces, CIA

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The US may have committed war crimes of torture, cruel treatment and rape, when it interrogated dozens of people in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2014, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said.

The International Criminal Court’s preliminary probe of the US armed forces and CIA activities 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, according to the AFP.

Between May 2003 and the end of 2014 in Afghanistan, at least 61 detained persons “appear” to have been subjected to torture, cruelty and “outrages upon personal dignity,” while under control of US armed forces, the report says.

The report found that the CIA subjected “at least 27 detained persons”to rape, torture, cruelty or outrages upon personal dignity, while in Afghanistan “and other States Parties to the Statute (namely Poland, Romania and Lithuania) between December 2002 and March 2008.” Most of the alleged abuses took place between 2003 and 2004, the report finds.

Should formal charges be filed, Washington may be found in violation of several “war crimes” provisions of Article 8 of the ICC Rome Statute.

Nearly a year ago, in late November of 2015, the US responded to allegations of the Committee Against Torture, saying that the Department of Defense conducted numerous investigations, which resulted in production or disciplinary measures for “hundreds of service members.”

It stressed that in nearly 200 cases, investigations of detainee abuse allegations resulted “non-judicial punishment or adverse administrative action,” while many more ensued action at a lower level.

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 intelligence gleaned from traditional interrogations as that attained by far more brutal methods.

The United Kingdom is also covered in the ICC preliminary probe.

The ICC is 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 2003-2008.

“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.

International investigators highlighted more than 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% of them aged between 18 to 34 years and 44 under the age of 18 at the time of the arrest and/or detention,” Bensouda unveiled in the report.

In her annual “Report on Preliminary Examination Activities,” the ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda covers investigations being conducted on UK officials’ alleged “responsibility for war crimes” in Iraq between 2003 and 2008, as well as on situations in Ukraine and Palestine.

[Source: RT]

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