Arrests and mission drift in Afghanistan: Van Bommel demands clarification

19 March 2006

Arrests and mission drift in Afghanistan: Van Bommel demands clarification

The SP is seeking clarification from Defence Minister Henk Kamp concerning reports in leading daily NRC Handelsblad to the effect that Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan have handed suspected terrorists over to the US army on more occasions than have been made public. SP foreign affairs spokesman and Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel has the impression that elected representatives are being fed insufficient and incomplete information by the minister, with whom the SP is seeking a debate.

Mr Van Bommel is also seeking clarification regarding the role of Dutch special forces in the preparation of the reconstruction mission in the region of Uruzgan. The most senior Dutch military leader, General Berlijn, said today in a televised interview that the soldiers would possibly be involved in reconnaissance. Operation Enduring Freedom, aimed at capturing terrorists, and ISAF, the reconstruction mission, are becoming increasingly intertwined, despite repeated assurances from the government that this would not happen.

NRC Handelsblad, one of the Netherlands' most respected newspapers and roughly equivalent to the FT or Wall Street Journal, reported on Saturday that four Afghans who had surrendered in January to Dutch commandos following an armed skirmish had then been handed over to the Americans. The Defence Ministry had, however, announced only that during the same incident one Afghan had died and that two had been arrested directly by US forces. Of the other four nothing had been said. Van Bommel said that he felt that he and other Members had been treated with contempt by the Minister. “Journalists from NRC know more than I do as an elected MP. That's unacceptable.”

You are here