Nearly One Year After Killing of Five Aid Workers in Afghanistan,

Brussels, May 11, 2005 – On the day Hamid Karzai, H.E. President of Afghanistan, visits Belgium, the international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) renews its call for the Afghan government to fully investigate the killing of five MSF aid workers in Afghanistan in June 2004.

Egil Tynaes, Pim Kwint, Hélène de Beir, Faisal Ahmad, and Besmillah were brutally murdered in Afghanistan's northwestern province of Badghis on June 2, 2004. Their murders and the Afghan government's subsequent failure to adequately respond led MSF to close its programs in Afghanistan after 25 years of providing humanitarian assistance to victims of the conflict there.

In spite of many promises by the Afghan government, there have been no arrests and no prosecutions of those who ordered or carried out the attacks. The Afghan Ministry of Interior, which has responsibility for investigating and prosecuting this crime, has informed MSF that a local police commander is the prime suspect in the murders. The police commander had been removed from his post in the Qadis district of Badghis province prior to the killings, but the Ministry of Interior recently confirmed that he was reinstated despite the accusations against him.

"Reinstating the primary suspect in the assassination of aid workers to a post in the police amounts to an official sanction of the crime," said Gorik Ooms, General Director of MSF. "Governments, including those of several European countries and the United States, that are supporting the military and police agencies of Afghanistan, should not accept that their counterparts include those implicated in the murder of aid workers."

MSF can only conclude that the Afghan government is failing to live up to its responsibility to investigate and prosecute those involved in the murder of five humanitarian aid workers who were providing independent medical assistance to the Afghan people.

"The failure of Afghanistan's government to investigate and prosecute those responsible for our colleagues' killings sends the message that there is impunity for those who would assassinate aid workers in Afghanistan," said Ooms. "This threatens the ability of Afghans in need to receive humanitarian assistance now and in the future."

MSF calls upon the Government of Afghanistan to conduct a full and credible investigation of the killings and to prosecute those responsible. The government must demonstrate its commitment to confront violence against humanitarian aid workers.