Dutch government to pay compensation for killing 20 civilians in Afghanistan

The Dutch government has accepted to pay compensation for killing some 20 civilians in Afghanistan’s southern Urozgan province in an airstrike in 2007 after its defence ministry failed to prove that the residential complex its forces hit was a military target.

Back then, the Dutch was part of the US-led military intervention and was fighting against the Taliban in a battle for control of Chora Valley – some 500 kilometres southwest of the capital, Kabul.

Siding with four survivors of the attack who sued the Dutch government for compensation, the District Court of the Hague found in November 2022 that the Dutch forces violated the international humanitarian law in the attack and unlawfully bombed the residential complex known as “quala” in Urozgan province with attack helicopters and F-16s.

The Dutch government, the Associated Press reported, said on Friday that it will not appeal the court ruling and will proceed to pay compensation.

In a letter sent to lawmakers on Friday, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said that 15 years after the attack, the ministry does not have the required information to substantiate the fact that the Taliban were using the targeted facility at the time of the attack.

“The State will therefore not lodge an appeal. The State will comply with the court’s ruling by proceeding to pay compensation. The extent of the damage has yet to be determined,” she wrote.

Survivors of the attack has been informed through an intermediary in Afghanistan and were relieved at the Dutch government’s decision.