Afghanistan: SP questions government on NATO's use of cluster bombs

10 November 2006

Afghanistan: SP questions government on NATO's use of cluster bombs

SP defence spokeswoman Krista van Velzen has asked the Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs for en explanation of reports that NATO has employed cluster bombs in the South Afghanistan province of Kandahar. The reports suggest that a woman civilian died as a result. Last month Secretary of State for Defence Cees van der Knaap gave his assurance that Dutch troops in Afghanistan had no stocks of such weapons. Dutch grounds troops are deployed in the province of Uruzgan, but the air force may be engaged in any area of the country.

Krista van Velzen“I want to know who used these cluster bombs,” Ms Van Velzen insists. “What's more, the Netherlands is currently in command of NATO, and that raises the question of just who is responsible for this use.”

During the summer Krista van Velzen put parliamentary questions on a number of occasions on the use of cluster bombs in the war in Lebanon. In answering these questions, the government said that any use of such weapons should conform to the international humanitarian laws governing warfare. This would mean a ban on any action which would bring the civilian population or any building or object not having a military use into unnecessary danger, a ban on causing unnecessary suffering and the application of the principal of proportionality in any use of violence.

Van Velzen fears that it is, to say the least, open to question whether these laws are being taken into account in Afghanistan. “The big question is what the use of cluster bombs can possibly contribute to reconstruction in Afghanistan,” she says. "We should remember that this is the official reason for the presence of Dutch troops. A conference on conventional weapons is currently taking place. We should be using it to argue for a ban on cluster bombs, but the Netherlands is not taking the lead in this. The SP remains committed to an international ban.”

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