Can USA Be Charged For War Crimes After Recent Air Strikes In Afghanistan?


US air strikes are common in the Afghanistan where these are used to eliminate the suspected Taliban cadres. These are supported by the Afghan government though several politicians including the former President Hamid Karzai opposes such attacks. US in a similar such strikes killed more than 30 civilians on Thursday who were innocents and it is assumed had no relations with the Taliban. The air strikes were made in the in Buz Kandahari, the village outside Kunduz children and young ones have been buried on Friday. After the attack US has been widely criticized for such inhuman activities.

Last year US- NATO forces had killed 42 people when a France based MSF hospital was attacked; innocents lives when lost US authorities including Pentagon started to say that air strike could not be included under the category of war crimes. Though criticism had started to pour from all quarters; in similar way the recent air strike has been widely criticized including the Amnesty International. All view it as the gross human rights violation as the innocents have no criminal tag still they lose their lives in air strikes. NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan although has stated that it would investigate the matter of the recent air strike.

At several level it has been voiced that US should not employ the air strikes but US is not prepared to stop the air strikes which it feels are the major tool by which the Taliban forces ,which have become quite stronger in the recent time, can be controlled. Though this is a pure fallacy at the cognitive level because the Taliban have been able to regroup themselves in recent time due to external support and the role of Pakistan has been highlighted by the Afghan authorities. It is established that Pakistan supported groups have been capacitised to create the disturbances; hence the proper policy making should be initiated by US and it should try to find out the real causes of the Taliban’s growing strength. Moreover the ground attacks by the US forces should avoid the killing of the innocent lives but US emphases more use of the air strikes.

After the recent attack in Afghanistan the voices have been raised hat US should be indicted for the war crimes in the Afghanistan. A Foreign Policy report published on October 31, 2016 stated ‘prosecutor’s office of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is ready to initiate a full investigation of a range of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, including some by U.S. personnel, according to several knowledgeable sources. The ICC move would mark the first time that a formal ICC investigation has scrutinized U.S. actions and sets up a possible collision with Washington. Multiple sources have indicated that the chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, will seek to initiate an investigation in the coming weeks, likely after the U.S. presidential election but before the end of the year. U.S. officials visited The Hague recently to discuss the potential investigation and to express concerns about its scope (and) while these accusations largely date back 2003 to 2005, during a period in which U.S. forces occupied Afghanistan, the ICC has also communicated deep concerns over a U.S. airstrike that targeted and struck a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz on Oct. 3, 2015.’

US authorities although have denied the charges saying that no war crimes accusation is applicable on USA. The role of International Criminal Court has now become quite important. The ICC was established by Rome statue in 1998 which was implemented in 2002 after the ratification of 60 states. The court can investigate the crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity etc. The accusation against the US will be brought under the crimes against the humanity which may put US on defensive mode as it always talks about the value based international order where the values of democracy, human rights should be protected but it fails on its own level as the air strikes should have been avoided in Afghanistan and some other ways could be devised but it did not care the lives of the children and all the innocent civilians. ICC has to play a crucial role in this affair; ICC is itself under pressure due to its working. It has mainly concentrated the African leaders and states for the crimes. This will be historic development if US is prosecuted for the war crimes in Afghanistan. Every possibility exists that US with its network will make a strong attempt to thwart any such proceeding but the truth is that the innocent people have been killed in Afghanistan in its air strikes and US must be prepared to answer such human rights violations. Terrorism containment policies need to be tempered in such a way that innocent lives are not lost. US failed on this count and its track record in Afghanistan with respect to human rights violation is full of stains. It needs to be corrected either by itself or by any international body. The activities of ICC are therefore a welcome step in the right direction if these see the day of sun.

Dr. Vivek Kumar Srivastava is Vice Chairman CSSP Kanpur,Consultant CRIEPS, e mail-[email protected]

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