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Physicians for Human Rights Responds to Kunduz Hospital Airstrike Report

For Immediate Release

The Defense Department today released the redacted report of its internal investigation into the U.S. military airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Since the attack last October, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has been pressing the White House and the Pentagon to consider a criminal inquiry in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Here is PHR's response to today’s report, attributable to PHR Executive Director Donna McKay:

“The decision to dole out only administrative punishments and forego a thorough criminal investigation of October’s deadly strike in Kunduz is an affront to the families of the more than 40 men, women, and children who died that night, punished merely for being in a hospital, a supposed safe haven in a time of war.

“In our correspondence with the White House and the Pentagon and in our public statements, we’ve stressed that a complete accounting must take place, and that victims and their families must receive full and effective reparation. The U.S. government has acknowledged its mistakes and apologized for them, and today’s report demonstrates a good-faith investigation by the military and its leadership.

“But good-faith is not enough. There are laws — even in the heat of warfare — which must be followed. And no one is above them. Period. While the Kunduz strike may have been a mistake, some mistakes may be criminal. Mere reprimands, while potentially career-ending, are no substitute for a full criminal investigation. Sidestepping such an investigation is an offense to the standards of justice and accountability the U.S. espouses internationally.

“When justice is served, it provides a modicum of accountability, an example for others to follow. But today, justice for the patients who died in their beds, the doctors and nurses and hospital staff killed while doing their jobs, was denied.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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Kevin Short

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