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Afghan Rights Group Hails ICC Plan On War Crimes

The International Criminal Court in the Hague
KABUL (Reuters) -- An Afghan rights watchdog has praised a decision by the International Criminal Court to gather information about possible war crimes committed by foreign forces and Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan.

The Hague-based ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said last week the ICC had received "allegations from many different sources" that crimes including massive attacks, excessive collateral damage and torture had been committed in Afghanistan.

Kabul-based Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM), which deals with rights violations in Afghanistan , welcomed the decision.

The plight of civilians and crimes against humanity have been "largely ignored, unreported and unaddressed by the international human rights groups and the Afghan government" it said in a statement in English.

"Over the past several years civilian people have been increasingly killed, wounded, displaced, imprisoned, tortured and deprived of their basic human rights by armed insurgent groups and Afghan and international military forces," it said.

The ICC said that if a preliminary examination shows grounds, it would launch a full investigation.

Afghanistan is a signatory of a treaty that established the ICC, and any war crimes committed on its territory by Afghan nationals or foreigners is of interest to the court, according to the ICC.

Afghanistan's recent history was replete with appalling crimes from "disproportionate and indiscriminating use of military power to the large-scale crimes of mass-killing of civilians and prisoners of war to the destruction of essential civilian infrastructures" it said.

Over 100,000 foreign troops, more than a third of them Americans, under the command of NATO and U.S. military are battling a resurgent Taliban, overthrown by U.S. and Afghan forces in 2001.

The United Nations recorded 1,013 civilian deaths in the first six months of this year, about 60 percent of them caused by insurgents, the rest caused by government or foreign troops.

Reviltalization Of Transitional Justice

ARM called on the government, human rights groups and the United Nations to renew and revitalize the Action Plan for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation drawn up to address rights violations committed by Afghan factions before the Taliban's ouster.

Various regimes and guerrilla groups that have come and gone in Afghanistan in the past three decades of conflict, often backed by foreign powers, have been accused of widespread human rights violations and crimes.

Nearly 2 million people lost their lives in the war triggered by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.