Rights Groups: Pentagon's Wrist-Slap for Kunduz Hospital Bombing "An Insult"

Human rights groups said the Pentagon’s disciplinary actions against U.S. military personnel for the October bombing of a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan were both “an injustice and an insult.”

The Department of Defense announced late Wednesday it would issue “administrative punishments” against 12 service members responsible for the disastrous bombing that resulted in the deaths of 42 patients and staff—but would not file any criminal charges.

“For good reason the victims’ family members will see this as both an injustice and an insult: the US military investigated itself and decided no crimes had been committed,” wrote Patricia Grossman, senior Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a blog post on Thursday. “The failure to criminally investigate senior officials liable for the attack is not only an affront to the lives lost at the MSF hospital, but a blow against the rule of law in Afghanistan and elsewhere.”

MSF, which has called for an independent investigation into the bombing, said it would request more details from the U.S. government before commenting on the disciplinary actions.

The medical charity has said the bombing may amount to a war crime and has denounced previous actions by the U.S. government, such as handing out “condolence payments,” that it said were insufficient.