Medecins Sans Frontieres demands war crime probe into US attack
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULOct 08, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Oct 08, 2015 12:00 am
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) called on Wednesday for an independent international fact-finding commission to be established to investigate the U.S. bombing of its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, which it deems a war crime. The medical charity said that the commission, which can be set up at the request of a single state under the Geneva Convention, would gather facts and evidence from the United States, NATO and Afghanistan. Only then would MSF decide whether to bring criminal charges for loss of life and damage, it said. "If we let this go, we are basically giving a blank check to any countries at war," MSF International President Joanne Liu told a news briefing in Geneva. "There is no commitment to an independent investigation yet."
The U.S. military took responsibility on Tuesday for the air strike on a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz that killed 22 people, calling it a mistake and vowing to bring the perpetrators to account. United States Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Tuesday said the Pentagon "deeply regrets" the deaths of those civilians. Carter's remarks came as his top general in Afghanistan, John Campbell, acknowledged the incident was a mistake. "The Department of Defense deeply regrets the loss of innocent lives that resulted from this tragic event," Carter said in a statement released as he visited Rome on a five-day European tour. "The investigation into how this could have happened is continuing, and we are fully supporting NATO and Afghanistan's concurrent investigations." "The U.S. military takes the greatest care in our operations to prevent the loss of innocent life, and when we make mistakes, we own up to them. That's exactly what we're doing right now," Carter said.
MSF said it sent a letter on Tuesday to the 76 countries who signed up to the additional protocol of the Geneva Convention that set up the standing commission in 1991. Neither the United States nor Afghanistan are signatories and Francoise Saulnier, MSF lead counsel MSF, said that the consent of the states involved is necessary. MSF is in talks with Switzerland about convoking the international commission of independent experts. "Today we say enough, even war has rules," Liu said. "We cannot rely on internal investigations by U.S, NATO and Afghan forces."
Meanwhile, an Afghan official said government troops have regained control of the main square in embattled Kunduz. Sarwar Hussaini, the spokesman for the provincial police chief, said Wednesday the flag is flying over the main square, shops have re-opened and life is returning to "normal." He says main roads running east and south have opened and traffic is starting to flow. The security situation remains fluid, however, with fighting on the outskirts of the city in recent days. Taliban fighters seized control for three days before government troops launched a counteroffensive Thursday.