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ICC prosecutors says she can't investigate IS atrocities

International Criminal Court prosecutor says she has no jurisdiction to probe Islamic State

ICC prosecutors says she can't investigate IS atrocities

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- The Islamic State terror group has committed "crimes of unspeakable cruelty" in Syria and Iraq, the International Criminal Court's prosecutor said Wednesday, but added that she does not have jurisdiction to open an investigation.

"Crimes of unspeakable cruelty have been reported, such as mass executions, sexual slavery, rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, torture, mutilation, enlistment and forced recruitment of children and the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, not to mention the wanton destruction of cultural property," Fatou Bensouda said in a statement. "The commission of the crime of genocide has also been alleged."

But Bensouda added that "the jurisdictional basis for opening a preliminary examination into this situation is too narrow at this stage."

The court does not have jurisdiction because neither Syria nor Iraq is a member of the court and the United Nations Security Council has not asked for an investigation.

She said that there is not yet a sufficiently strong foundation for opening an investigation even though she has information that "several thousand foreign fighters," including citizens of countries that are members of the court, have joined IS and "may have been involved in the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes."

But she said the terror group appears to be led by Syrian and Iraqis -- who are not covered by the court's jurisdiction, "Thus, at this stage, the prospects of my office investigating and prosecuting those most responsible, within the leadership ... appear limited."

Bensouda said she made her comments after repeatedly being asked whether she can prosecute IS atrocities.

She added that nations that are not members of the court, or the Security Council, could grant her jurisdiction, but she can't influence that decision.

Updated : 2021-09-19 13:47 GMT+08:00