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Editorial: US double standards

Waging a war for almost decades unquestionably gives rise to atrocities and human rights abuses, whether it’s the handiwork of the Taliban, the US or the Afghan government. Afghanistan has been the arena of such longest war and its people have been victimized for ages. Now that the peace talks are in full swing, the matter of transitional justice and redressal of war crimes takes shape – something that complements the peace process and without it, peace means nothing for the Afghan war victims. However, the catch is would any of the warring parties comply with international laws and allow this process to go smoothly? Apparently, the US doesn’t. US Presi­dent Donald Trump has issued an executive order authorizing US sanctions against Interna­tional Criminal Court (ICC) employees involved in an investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan. The Hague-based court opened the probe after prosecutors’ preliminary review in 2017 determined war crimes may have been committed in Afghanistan. Despite earlier multiple hurdles, mainly created by the US, the ICC investigation was once again given the green light to proceed in March this year but the recent US action to obstruct it has drawn worldwide flak. Washington’s recent move was condemned by the European Union, Human Rights Watch, United Nations and as well as by the ICC. Denouncing the Trump administration’s decision to impose sanctions against officials of the ICC, the UN has said “the court must be independent so that it could decide matters without any improper influence, inducement, pressures, threats or interference from any quarter or for any reasons.” Meanwhile, responding to the US decision, ICC oversight chief, O-Gon Kwon, said these measures undermine the “endeavor to fight impunity and to ensure accountability for mass atrocities.” Moreover, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has also put weight behind the Afghan war crimes probe by the ICC. Given the reactions, it seems the US is against the world in this matter. While deeming itself the pioneer of democracy and a human rights advocate, the US is ironically trying to whitewash its own crimes. On the other hand, whenever it comes to the US to come clean and provide accountability, it uses the card of accusing its rival powers of being involved – as the country’s pretext this time is alleging that Russia is manipulating the Hague-based tribunal to serve Moscow’s needs. The question here is not of rivalry, it is of human rights violations. Besides, investigation and prosecution of atrocity crimes is the primary jurisdiction of a state that is engaged. But if a state won’t do it, the ICC, is a court of last resort, and complementary to national jurisdictions. The blatant attempt at obstruction by the US shows the hypocrisy and double standards of the US at its peak. The recent action demonstrates that the US doesn’t regard the global rule of law applicable to itself and shows that it’s only wrong when others commit such atrocities. This is a matter of serious concern, especially at a time when the peace seems around the corner in Afghanistan. If the US gives itself the right to ostensibly interfere when others commit such crimes, then it should also let the world investigate what it has done in Afghanistan. Not complying with globally accepted laws has caused the US to lose credibility as it’s trying to infringe upon Afghans’ right to redress and to justice. 

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