NEW YORK March 5, 2020 – The International Criminal Court today authorized opening an investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the context of the armed conflict in Afghanistan including by U.S. military and intelligence forces. The court also approved the scope of the investigation into CIA black sites in Poland, Lithuania, and Romania.

The decision reverses an earlier ICC pre-trial chamber decision to not authorize the investigation, citing in part “the lack of cooperation that the Prosecutor has received and which is likely to go scarcer should an investigation be authorized.” 

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program, issued the following statement in response to today’s decision:

“This decision vindicates the rule of law and gives hope to the thousands of victims seeking accountability when domestic courts and authorities have failed them. While the road ahead is still long and bumpy, this decision is a significant milestone that bolsters the ICC’s independence in the face of the Trump administration’s bullying tactics. Countries must fully cooperate with this investigation and not submit to any authoritarian efforts by the Trump administration to sabotage it. It is past time perpetrators are held accountable for well-documented war crimes that haunt survivors and the families of victims to this day.”

The ACLU currently represents Khaled El Masri, Suleiman Salim, and Mohamed Ben Soud — all of whom were detained and tortured in Afghanistan — before the ICC as part of its investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed over the course of the armed conflict in Afghanistan since May 2003.