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Millions of Afghans seek justice from International Criminal Court

AFGHANS have submitted 1.17 million statements on war crimes to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the three months since it began collecting material for possible prosecutions.

The statements contain accusations of criminal conduct by the United States-led Nato invaders, Afghanistan’s Western-backed government, foreign and domestic spy agencies, government-supporting warlords, the Taliban and other jihadist insurgents.

Abdul Wadood Pedram of the Kabul-based Human Rights and Eradication of Violence Organisation (HREVO) said the total number of people seeking justice from the ICC could be several million, as one statement might include multiple people and a single organisation might represent thousands of victim statements.

“It is shocking there are so many,” Mr Pedram said, noting that in some instances whole villages were represented.

Many of the representations include statements involving multiple victims, which could be the result of air strikes, assassinations or suicide bombings, he said.

The statements were collected by organisations based in Afghanistan and Europe, but Mr Pedram said that though he had the organisations’ names, they were reluctant to be publicly identified as they feared retaliation.

Mr Pedram himself was forced to flee Kabul briefly last year after receiving death threats.

Several powerful warlords who aided the US invasion in 2001 have been accused of war crimes.

“The warlords are all here. You have to be very careful,” Mr Pedram said.

The New York Times reported in 2013 that, for over a decade, the CIA has delivered suitcases full of cash to Afghanistan’s president each month for him to dish out to warlords.

The ICC can only consider crimes alleged to have been committed after May 2003, when the country ratified the court’s Rome Statute.

While the US has rejected the court’s jurisdiction, its citizens can be charged with crimes committed in countries that are members.

US, British and other Nato forces have been responsible for a long list of war crimes in Afghanistan, including indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, the murder of civilians in deadly night raids by special forces and the killing of other civilians in drone and missile assassinations, as well as routine kidnapping, torture and rape.

In 2015, the US military even bombed a hospital in Kunduz for more than 30 minutes in broad daylight.

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