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USA's Kunduz hospital bombing: An independent investigation still needed

The US Department of Defense is set to release the findings from its investigation into the US bombing of an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan in October which killed 42 and injured 43, including medical staff and patients. Media reports suggest that there will be no criminal prosecutions. On Wednesday another MSF hospital, this time in Syria, was struck.

Naureen Shah, Director of Amnesty USA’s Security with Human Rights programme, said:

“Amnesty International has long expressed serious concerns about the Department of Defense’s questionable track record of policing itself.

“Today’s findings again demonstrate the need for an independent investigation, outside of the chain of command, to determine what happened in Kunduz and to assess potential criminal wrongdoing.

“It is never acceptable to target hospitals under international law. To prevent the principles of international humanitarian law from being further eroded, the US government must respect its obligation to independently investigate serious violations of international humanitarian law and ensure those responsible are prosecuted.

“The decision to prosecute members of the armed forces for criminal conduct should be made by an independent prosecutor to avoid the conflict of interest inherent in allowing commanders to make such decisions. Until there is meaningful and systemic reform, Afghan victims of violations by US forces will be denied full justice.”

Amnesty’s 2014 report ‘Left in the Dark’ explores severe inadequacies in the US military justice system in addressing allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and civilian deaths and injuries in Afghanistan.

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