[JURIST] The discrepancies between the US and Afghan accounts of the US-led bombing that struck a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, last week call for an independent investigation by a never-before-used international body, said Joanne Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) [advocacy website], in a speech [statement] on Wednesday. Twenty-two people were killed [MSF factsheet] in the MSF-operated hospital that was hit by the US bomb, and dozens more were injured. MSF seeks an investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, a permanent body created by the Additional Protocols [text, materials] of the Geneva Conventions and officially constituted in 1991, but has not yet been used because it requires a signatory state to sponsor an inquiry.
Governments up to now have been too polite or afraid to set a precedent. The tool exists and it is time it is activated. …Today we are fighting back for the respect of the Geneva Conventions. As doctors, we are fighting back for the sake of our patients. We need you, as members of the public, to stand with us to insist that even wars have rules.
This MSF hospital was the only high-level trauma care center in northeastern Afghanistan, but the attack has left it no longer operational.
Earlier this week the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an investigation [JURIST report] into the Kunduz hospital attack and for the results of an investigation to be made public. Several days prior to the hospital attack, the UN rights leader also requested that all parties in the Taliban attack in Kunduz attempt to keep civilians out of harm [JURIST report]. Human rights groups have criticized Afghanistan’s record in recent months. In August the UN said that a new report [text, PDF] shows a significant increase in the number of women and children [JURIST report] being hurt or killed in Afghanistan’s war against the Taliban and other insurgents. In June the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Mark Bowden stated that the hostilities in Afghanistan are leading to the killing and wounding of thousands [JURIST report] and the forced relocation of families into neighboring countries.