International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and her team met a delegation led by Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar, the ICC said on Sunday, adding that both sides pledged to work together to achieve justice for Afghans by holding perpetrators of atrocities accountable.
“The meeting was organized in the context of the government of Afghanistan's March 2020 request for the Office to defer its investigation pursuant to article 18 of the Rome Statute,” the ICC statement said.
At the meeting, detailed presentations provided further insights into investigative steps taken or planned by the national authorities in Afghanistan and an opportunity for the Office to seek clarifications on a number of discussion points, the ICC said.
"I have great admiration for the courage and resilience of the people of Afghanistan who have withstood tremendous adversity through decades of conflict and violence. They deserve tangible justice without delay," stated Prosecutor Bensouda.
"I look forward to continuing our constructive exchanges with the government of Afghanistan, which was exemplified by today's discussions, as we work towards determining how justice may best be served through joint collaborative efforts with full commitment to our respective independent duties and responsibilities under the Rome Statute," added the Prosecutor.
Atmar thanked prosecutor Bensouda for her commitment, stating: "This was a historic and very constructive meeting. The government of Afghanistan is grateful to the ICC Prosecutor for hosting our high-level delegation to address the investigation and prosecution of all international crimes in Afghanistan.”
“At this decisive moment for our country's future, we have made encouraging progress in charting the way forward to ensure that no crimes will go unpunished. With our government's unwavering commitment to human rights and justice, we are confident that with full cooperation with the Prosecutor, we can jointly advance the cause of justice for all of the victims of the long and devastating conflict,” he said.
Zabihullah Karimullah, the Attorney General of Afghanistan, who also participated at the meeting, said: "Our meeting with the ICC Prosecutor was very useful for discussing the constructive ways in which we can cooperate with the Office of the Prosecutor and for sharing information about the cases that Afghanistan is investigating and prosecuting at all levels. We look forward to continuing our positive exchanges and collaboration to guarantee that there will be no impunity for international crimes."
"The Office is appreciative of Afghanistan's expressed commitment and the steps taken towards addressing accountability for atrocity crimes and securing justice for victims in Afghanistan in close collaboration with the ICC," said the international court statement.
The information and clarifications generated at the meeting will be helpful to the Office's independent assessment of the Government of Afghanistan's article 18 (2) deferral request. The Prosecutor's decision on that request is pending," said the statement.