Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Wednesday that an international humanitarian commission has been asked to investigate the U.S. bombing of its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan that killed 22 people including 12 of its staff earlier this month.
The medical charity had been demanding that the independent humanitarian commission created under the Geneva Conventions in 1991 be activated for the first time to handle the inquiry into the Oct. 3 airstrike.
MSF, which said it could not rely on U.S., NATO and Afghan internal investigations to examine the bombing, said the Swiss-based International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) had been activated at the request of a state that it did not name.
"The IHFFC is now awaiting the agreement of the United States and Afghanistan governments to proceed," MSF said in a statement.
Both nations must give their approval for the investigation to begin. U.S. President Barack Obama last week apologized to MSF for the airstrike. Before Obama’s apology, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Campbell, told a Senate committee that the attack was a "mistake" but that the ultimate decision to shell the facility was made by the U.S. chain of command.
MSF has said the commission's inquiry would gather facts and evidence from the U.S., NATO and Afghanistan, as well as testimony from MSF staff and patients who survived the attack. The partial destruction of its trauma hospital has left tens of thousands of Afghans without access to health care.
"We have received apologies and condolences, but this is not enough. We are still in the dark about why a well-known hospital full of patients and medical staff was repeatedly bombarded for more than an hour," said MSF International President Dr. Joanne Liu. "We need to understand what happened and why."
The fact-finding commission, composed of 15 experts, was established in 1991 under the Geneva Conventions. It aims to protect civilians and non-combatants during war, but has never been activated.
MSF has previously said it was in talks with Swiss authorities to activate the commission. Swiss foreign ministry officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Al Jazeera and wire services