REUTERS - Doctors Without Borders (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 location of this hospital was well-known, was well-communicated to all parties like we do in a conflict. The opposition forces, including in the coalition forces and the Afghan forces. We've given the coordinates. The hospital exists for four years. It's a relatively big hospital that is clearly visible and known to everybody so a precise attack on this big hospital - if not proven differently - leads us to a war crime," said MSF operational directorate president Meinie Nicolai, speaking in Brussels on Tuesday.
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.
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."
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