Is Germany responsible for Kunduz victims?

Germany's highest federal appeal court has rejected the compensation claims submitted by victims of a military attack carried out in Kunduz in 2009. At least 90 civilians died as a result of the strike in which the German military bombed two fuel tankers that had been hijacked by Taliban fighters and could potentially have been used as weapons. There can be no compensation for the consequences of a war, some commentators argue, approving the decision. Others say Germany must assume responsibility for its acts.

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

State not liable in war

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung argues that the Federal High Court took the only right decision:

“Public liability was clearly not meant to apply to wars, quite apart from the fact that Germany would have been the only country in the world with such compensation regulations. And incidentally the German government has already voluntarily given the families of the victims a kind of financial recompense. … The Kunduz airstrike targeted tankers that were not far away from a camp and had been hijacked by Taliban fighters. So these tankers were lethal weapons - and therefore legitimate targets. The meticulous assessment and penal process strongly contradict the slogan spread by the Left Party: 'Bomb them first, then ignore them'. The German armed forces in Afghanistan are not only defending our safety, but also the law.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Germany should assume responsibility

Germany's highest federal court has missed a historic opportunity, the Süddeutsche Zeitung counters:

“With its landmark decision the Federal High Court (BGH) has now established that Germany is never liable, not even for the gross mistakes and shocking faults of its soldiers. The random airstrike, the disproportionate use of mortar, the completely exaggerated gun battle - none of this falls under Germany's public liability laws. Public liability, the BGH says, is reserved for flooding damage owing to inadequate canalization or mistakes in industrial supervision. … It is true that so far no state has accepted claims for damages resulting from mistakes made by a few soldiers. But in international law individual claims are gaining importance. At a time when foreign operations by German soldiers are growing in number, Germany would make a good impression by saying: paying compensation to victims is part of assuming global responsibility.”