ICC should investigate massacre crime by British forces: Global Times editorial
Published: Jul 19, 2022 12:55 AM


In less than a month after the UK's "appalling" practice of deporting refugees as criminals was stopped by the European Court of Human Rights, another more "appalling" crime was exposed by Britain's own media. According to recent reports by media outlets like the BBC, Britain's elite Special Air Service (SAS) operatives in Afghanistan repeatedly killed detainees and unarmed men in suspicious circumstances, and SAS squadrons were even competing with each other to get the most kills. And one unit may have unlawfully killed 54 people in one six-month tour. In addition, the reports said SAS operatives might have been falsifying evidence. The former head of UK Special Forces, who went on to become head of the Army before stepping down last month, knew about the killings, but did not report them.

However, the attention drawn by this revelation is not in line with the seriousness of its content. American and Western public opinion, which tends to make a fuss, has generally shown an indifferent attitude of "treating major issues lightly" this time. Relevant stories rapidly subside before forming a certain momentum, and the ripple in British politics was covered by other topics. In the face of accusations against British military's brutal actions, the attitude of the UK Ministry of Defence was almost perfunctory. None of those British MPs and politicians who are into talking about human rights the most have been seen standing up in indignation to seek justice for innocent Afghan victims. There were only a few routine condemnations which sound feeble.

Overseas slaughter cannot be tolerated by any civilized country, and it is also a brutal trampling of international morality and laws. No British party or politician dares to endorse the "stain" that the British military is accused of, but they have even less enthusiasm or motivation to truly push for investigation or hold the perpetrators accountable. What they have done is just posturing. Therefore, there is reason to worry that this matter will end up with nothing definite. The UK Ministry of Defence claims to have conducted extensive investigations into the conduct of UK forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, but in fact at least 90 percent of war crimes allegations go uninvestigated. After all, we cannot expect the British military to check and correct itself.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Monday that there should be a thorough international investigation into UK's and US' war crimes and human rights violations, noting that justice should be done for innocent victims and that people from all over the world must be protected from bullying and cruelty. This call is very necessary and we hope it will resonate strongly enough in the international community and push for the implementation of the investigations. 

The International Criminal Court (ICC) should immediately open a case against British, American and Australian forces for indiscriminate killings in Afghanistan. The ICC has launched an investigation in the country, but so far it has been directed at the Taliban. Investigations into the US were not pursued after former US president Donald Trump's public threats. It's hard not to call it "double standards." The ICC needs to promote judicial justice and win the trust of all countries through more independent, objective and impartial judicial activities. The investigation of the "massacre" by British forces is a litmus test.

It's common sense that when a cockroach is spotted there are actually a thousand of them. A deputy spokesperson for the Afghan interim administration said that NATO forces have committed more killings than what is reported when they were stationed in Afghanistan. Before British forces' evil deeds, US and Australian forces were also exposed for killing civilians in Afghanistan. Various facts show that these are not isolated cases, but a widespread phenomenon that exists on a long-term and systematic basis. 

It is precisely the three Five Eyes countries, which wield human rights as a stick against other countries most vigorously, that are the most vicious in human rights abuses overseas. This is certainly not a coincidence, but has an inherent dark logic. Worse still, these three countries have established a system of exemption from responsibility. The British Parliament introduced the Overseas Operations Bill last year to shield British service personnel and veterans who commit serious crimes overseas, including torture. Meanwhile, Washington has sanctioned a number of ICC officials who have tried to investigate US war crimes, using this simple and brutal approach to block investigations.

As long as the perpetrators are not duly punished, the next crime is inevitable. It's long past time to put an end to this chilling situation in the UK and the US.