The International Criminal Court turned down Friday a request to open a war crimes probe in Afghanistan, with the United States hailing a victory for its strong-armed tactic of revoking the chief prosecutor's visa.
However, the judges found Bensouda's request "establishes a reasonable basis to consider that crimes within the ICC jurisdiction have been committed in Afghanistan", according to the release.
The court said in a statement that the shifting Afghan political scene since then, the lack of cooperation that prosecutors have received so far and the likelihood that cooperation would diminish further if a full-blown investigation is opened combine to hamper the chances of a successful investigation and prosecutions.
"Notwithstanding the fact that all the relevant requirements are met as regards both jurisdiction and admissibility", they said, "the current circumstances in Afghanistan. make the prospect of a successful investigation and prosecution extremely limited".
In a preliminary report in 2017, Bensouda said there was a reasonable basis to believe that United States forces personnel and CIA officers had been involved in the war crimes of torture and rape, and that the crimes committed at the agency's so-called black sites in countries including Poland, Lithuania and Romania had been "committed with particular cruelty".
ICC prosecutors spent a decade examining alleged war crimes by all parties in the conflict in Afghanistan, including the possible role of United States personnel in relation to the detention of suspects, before opening a formal examination in November 2017.
Human Rights Watch said the ruling establishes a unsafe precedent. "It sends a unsafe message to perpetrators that they can put themselves beyond the reach of the law just by being uncooperative".
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"We will let the ICC die on its own", Bolton said past year.
US officials have repeatedly denounced the probe. "We welcome this decision and reiterate our position that the United States holds American citizens to the highest legal and ethical standards". Bensouda said on April 5 that her visa to the United States had been revoked.
"The U.S. has not joined the ICC because of its broad, unaccountable powers, and its threat to our sovereignty", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on March 15. The court also recognized the absence of investigations and prosecutions of those most responsible for these crimes.
In 2006, Bensouda's predecessor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, opened an examination into alleged war crimes by all parties in the conflict in Afghanistan, including the possible role of USA personnel in relation to the detention of suspects.
She also said that the Taliban and other insurgent groups have killed more than 17,000 civilians since 2009, including some 7,000 targeted killings.
"Accordingly, it is unlikely that pursuing an investigation would result in meeting the objectives listed by the victims favoring the investigation", the press release continued. "What is critical to this decision is that while the US was the most vocal in its opposition to the Court's investigation, none of the potential targets were supportive of the Court's efforts".
While Washington has pushed for the creation of ad-hoc global tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR), the USA voted against the establishment of the ICC in 1998, and has refused to join or submit to its authority after the court was officially created in 2002.
Sima Samar, the chair of Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission, strongly supported the probe.