Germany’s Federal Court of Justice [official website] ruled [press release, in German] Thursday that relatives of the victims of a 2009 airstrike in Afghanistan are not entitled to compensation. The court held that international law does not award damages or compensation for violations of international humanitarian law. Additionally, there is no legal basis for damages under German law because the scope of public liability does not extend to military missions abroad. The lawsuit concerned an airstrike [AP report] ordered by Brigadier General Georg Klein near Kunduz, Afghanistan, on September 4, 2009. The airstrike killed 91 people, including many civilians. Germany previously paid USD $5,000 to relatives of each civilian that died in the attack, but the victims’ relatives were seeking additional compensation.
The high number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan have concerned the international community in recent years. The UN reported [JURIST report] in April that violence in Afghanistan has injured health and education personnel, reducing available health care and restricting children’s’ access to fundamental health and educational services. In February the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported [JURIST report] that civilian casualties in Afghanistan had reached a record high 11,000 in 2015. Last November the US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] and Pentagon officials completed their investigation [JURIST report] into the October 3 bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, and announced that it was an “avoidable accident caused primarily by human error.” Also last October 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].