International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

U.S. soldier’s testimony on Afghan rampage at odds with prosecution

A recent trial being conducted by the army is centered on a US soldier that went on a shooting rampage this past March and killed 16 villagers in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan. The US prosecutor is seeking the death penalty, but the trial has had recent trip ups with some of the prosecution’s witnesses have led to delays with the legal proceedings. While this is an example of a government holding its own military accountable, it is still a fact that this is one of the worst civilian slaughters blamed on an individual soldier since Vietnam.

While reading this article, I was struck how it is situations like this that the United States has argued they want to retain control over by not joining the ICC. In the effort to encourage discussion, I find myself wondering about the type of backlash that would be incurred if the United States were to find insufficient evidence and dismiss a case like this. If the US were a signatory nation, how likely would it be that there would be enough pressure from the international community to push for an abstaining vote from the US or repeated opposition?

To me, it seems like even in cases like this that the combination of the veto power of the US in the security council and the fact that the American legal system is so stable means that they would rarely, if ever, find themselves in a situation like that. That said, it is conceivable that this would turn many nations against the United States if a case like that were dismissed or if the defendant were found to be not guilty.


One response to “U.S. soldier’s testimony on Afghan rampage at odds with prosecution

  1. dfulfs November 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    If the United States were a member state of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor could launch his or her own investigation, meaning that the U.S.’s veto power would be circumvented in cases where it was unwilling to prosecute. I don’t think that the U.S. would frequently find itself in a position of indictment to the ICC, simply because it does have a relatively stable legal system. If the U.S. courts could not find sufficient evidence, could the ICC launch an investigation of its own? I’m wondering if this lack of evidence could be construed as an unwillingness to prosecute.
    Also, I don’t necessarily know that people like Bales would be indicted by the ICC, simply because they aren’t really in positions of power. They didn’t order multiple people to commit multiple acts that would be considered crimes against humanity or war crimes. Yes, what Bales did was absolutely and undoubtedly illegal. I just don’t know that it would warrant ICC investigation. I think that the U.S. opposition to the ICC is at least partially based on the fact that it is nervous about generals like Patraeus being indicted.

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