HRW slams US decision regarding Kunduz airstrikes
KABUL (Pajhwok): Human Rights Watch strongly criticised US administrative punishments for 11 military personnel involved in airstrikes on Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in northern Kunduz province and called it “injustice and insult” to victim families.
On October 3, 2015, up to 42 people including a dozen MSF staff and patients were killed in a US airstrike, which left another 37 people wounded and building of the trauma centre was completely burnt in fire.
“That means letters of reprimand and other noncriminal penalties for those who ordered and carried out the attack. For good reason the victims’ family members will see this as both an injustice and an insult”, a statement from HRW said adding the US military investigated itself and decided no crimes had been committed.
The investigation was carried out under Gen. John Campbell, a US commander in Afghanistan at the time, who blamed a series of errors, “human, technical, and procedural” for the airstrike, the statement stated.
The organisation has analyzed information from the US military, MSF, and other sources and found a strong basis for determining that criminal liability exists. Under the laws of war, hospitals have special protection from attack, and attacks on them can be war crimes, the organisation argued in the statement.
HRW had called on the US Department of Defense to create a special high-level and independent Consolidated Disposition Authority and an independent convening authority to control referrals of criminal charges and the convening of courts martial, the statement added.
Following the Kunduz attack, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter vowed to conduct a “full and transparent” investigation and hold people accountable, but it did not happen, the statement added.
“The failure to criminally investigate senior officials criminally liable for the attack is not only an affront to the lives lost at the MSF hospital, but a blow against the rule of law in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world,” HRW concluded.
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