Who we are

To counter injustice with legal interventions – this is the aim and daily work of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.

ECCHR is an independent, non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to enforcing civil and human rights worldwide. It was founded in 2007 by Wolfgang Kaleck and other international human rights lawyers to protect and enforce the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other human rights declarations and national constitutions, through legal means.

Together with those affected and partners worldwide, ECCHR uses legal means to end impunity for those responsible for torture, war crimes, sexual and gender-based violence, corporate exploitation and fortressed borders.

16.02.2021

European Court of Human Rights judgment on Germany’s responsibility in the Kunduz airstrike

Germany was obliged to investigate the alleged war crime

Berlin/Strasbourg – Today the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg ruled in the case Hanan v. Germany that the federal government did not violate its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). However, the court decided that Germany was obliged to investigate the alleged war crime committed by its troops, and therefore confirmed the existence of a link to Article 1 of the convention. This investigation must be conducted according to the standards of the ECHR. Today’s ruling is therefore of significance for military operations abroad.

Disappointingly, the court did not find that Germany’s investigation violated its obligation under Article 2 of the convention to effectively investigate the incident. It should be noted, however, that secrecy in the proceedings and the constellation of different responsibilities betweenNATO and Germany prevented a comprehensive investigation from taking place. Gaps therefore remained and must be addressed in the future. Due to the division between NATO’s investigation on the ground, which was not conducted in accordance with criminal procedure law, and the investigation in Germany, a comprehensive investigation did not take place.

Plaintiff Abdul Hanan said about the case, “The past 12 years have been an ordeal for my family and the families of the many other victims. We never received an official apology from the German government. All we want is for those responsible for the attack to be held accountable and to be adequately compensated. I hope that the decision is a wake-up call for all governments and members of the armed forces. They must adhere to human rights during military operations abroad.”

Attorney and ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck, who represents Hanan before the ECtHR said, “For the Afghan village with dozens of civilian victims, today’s decision is of course disappointing because the German military’s policy of secrecy and de facto denial of procedural rights to those affected were not rebuked. The plaintiffs still hope for an apology from Germany. They also ask the German government to contact them to find out how they are doing twelve years after the air attack. This is particularly necessary in view of  service people’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

The case was brought by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in support of Abdul Hanan, who lost his eight and twelve-year-old sons in the deadly airstrike of 4 September 2009 near Kunduz, Afghanistan, which killed or injured approximately 100 civilians.

cases

Afghanistan

Kunduz airstrike – German military goes unpunished

Kunduz

On 4 September 2009, two US fighter jets, acting on the orders of German Army Colonel Georg Klein, bombed a large group of people and two tanker trucks on a sandbar in the Kunduz River in Afghanistan. More than 100 people were killed or injured. ECCHR is assisting Abdul Hanan, a father who lost his two sons, aged eight and twelve, in the attack.

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