Why Proving Hospital Bombing Was 'War Crime' Will Be Tough

Doesn't look like US has anything to fear in terms of the ICC
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2015 8:50 AM CDT
Why Proving Hospital Bombing Was 'War Crime' Will Be Tough
The burned Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after explosions in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.   (Medecins Sans Frontieres via AP)

The UN high commissioner for human rights on Sunday suggested the US attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was a war crime. For the international aid group, there is no doubt. "We're under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed," Jason Cone, executive director of the aid organization, told NPR Sunday. It wants "a full and transparent investigation ... by an independent, international body." NPR takes a look at what it frames as an uphill battle in proving such a crime occurred. Though Robert Goldman, an international law professor at American University, says "you bet" we'll probably "have to make some kinds of reparation," he sees it as extremely challenging to prove intentionality, "rather than just a case of poor intelligence or negligence."

"The burden would be on the prosecution to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that this was an attack willfully undertaken in the knowledge that it was an object entitled to protection." He says it's unlikely the US has anything to worry about with the International Criminal Court; indeed, CNN explains that the ICC doesn't prosecute countries (though the individuals who made the call or did the bombing could be brought before the court). Further, the US isn't a member of the ICC because we haven't ratified the Rome Statute that founded it. CNN notes that the armed forces must investigate any "breach of humanitarian law" committed by its own, and US, NATO, and Afghan probes are being conducted. As for the independent investigation Cone wants, Deutsche Welle reports the UN on Monday said it would hold off and see what those probes returned. (More Kunduz, Afghanistan stories.)

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