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SP demands immediate information when civilians fall victim to Dutch arms

23 December 2009

SP demands immediate information when civilians fall victim to Dutch arms

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel has asked Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop to ensure that he is informed immediately of any civilian victims of Dutch military activities in Afghanistan. Van Bommel’s demand follows revelations by national public television channel RTL, which used a request under the WOB, the Dutch equivalent of a freedom of information act, to obtain information which SP Members of Parliament have repeatedly requested. Van Bommel is also trying to find out if financial compensation paid to victims’ families compares with that paid out by other combatant nations.

Harry van BommelAccording to RTL News, 110 civilian deaths and ninety woundings of civilians have occurred as a result of Dutch actions in Afghanistan. The majority of these took place during the attack on Chora in June, 2007. “The Netherlands has always cast doubt on the number of civilian victims and emphasised that it was not completely clear whether they were civilians or insurgents,” says Van Bommel. “This is the first time that there has been openness about this matter. I am demanding from the Defence Minister that I be immediately informed whenever civilians fall victim to Dutch military action.”

The SP is also seeking clarification of the situation with regard to compensation paid by the Netherlands to relatives and the wounded. “We have seen in Iraq that the Netherlands has been reluctant to pay out compensation when civilians have fallen victim,” says Van Bommel. “Because in Afghanistan Dutch soldiers are involved in a great deal more violence, this matter has become much more serious. I want the minister to offer openness in relation to this also.”

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