Afghans have endured injustice for decades. Victims languish in an environment where abuses are committed with impunity, fueling resentment and the country’s conflict itself.
This December marks the 10-year anniversary of the “Convoy of Death.” During Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, 2,000 prisoners who had surrendered to the US and the Afghan Northern Alliance were shot or suffocated to death in sealed truck containers while being transferred by Northern Alliance forces. The dead prisoners – some of who had been tortured - were then buried in a mass grave in a northern Afghanistan desert at Dasht-e-Leili.
Earlier this week, Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda was chosen to be the new Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. She will be the second person, and the first African, to hold this position. Bensouda was the likely choice for the position given her professional qualifications, including serving as Deputy Prosecutor to Luis Moreno-Ocampo during his nine-year tenure as Chief Prosecutor of the Court. Given the extent of the ICC’s work in Africa – all seven of the countries with cases before the court are African – the choice of an African prosecutor seems especially appropriate.
Seven years ago, investigators for the Boston-based group Physicians for Human Rights discovered what appeared to be a mass grave in northern Afghanistan.The bodies, they were told, were those of Taliban fighters who had been rounded up by Northern Alliance forces shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2001 and stuffed into metal shipping containers for transport to a nearby prison.
Nathaniel Raymond has been leading the investigation into the alleged 2001 Dasht-e-Leili massacre in Afghanistan. Dr. Jennifer Leaning discovered the mass grave of Taliban prisoners.