A year into Taliban rule, ICC prosecutors seek resumed Afghan war crimes probe

Taliban supporters hold an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan flag on the first anniversary of the fall of Kabul

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - A year into the Taliban's rule, war crimes prosecutors in The Hague have urged judges to rule promptly on their request to resume investigations into atrocities in Afghanistan and warn that crimes are continuing, court documents showed.

The International Criminal Court's Afghanistan investigation has been on hold for more than two years. In March 2020 the previous Afghan government had asked it to be suspended while they investigated suspected war crimes themselves.

In documents released on ICC's website this week and dated Aug. 26, prosecutor Karim Khan argued Afghanistan's request to suspend the probe should be rejected, citing a lack of effort by authorities there to pursue justice in domestic courts.

He said the Taliban "have not continued, cannot continue and do not intend to continue the relevant investigations and prosecutions" that formed the basis of the request for suspension by the ousted government.

"To the contrary, the available information suggests that serious crimes within the jurisdiction of the court (...) continue to be committed," he added, urging judges to allow the probe the be "promptly resumed".

In September last year, Khan already announced he would ask judges to resume the probe into crimes by the Taliban and ISIS-K. He added prosecutors would "deprioritize" looking into suspected crimes by U.S. forces and Afghan government troops.

In July, the UN mission in Afghanistan said that the ruling Taliban were responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and inhumane punishments in the months since they toppled the previous government and seized power after Washington's withdrawal from the country.

There is no set deadline for judges to rule on the prosecution's request to resume the ICC investigation. .

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Nick Macfie)