2020 | Nuhanovic Foundation supports request for information Hawija bombing
The Nuhanovic Foundation supports the request submitted by Dutch lawyer for information about Dutch bombing Hawija in Iraq
Media reports in October 2019 about a large number of civilian casualties after a Dutch F-16 jet serving with the US-led coalition hit an ISIS bomb factory in the Iraqi town of Hawija in June 2015, led to the decision by victim groups, journalists and lawyers to further investigate the case in order to decide whether legal proceedings could be started against the Dutch government. The NF provided seed money for local investigations.
Until October 2019, the Dutch Ministry of Defence maintained that no civilian casualties were anticipated. However, later on it became clear that Dutch Defence ministry officials knew that bombing the facility was risky. A week before the attack, the CIA reported that a residential area in the vicinity of the IS facility would enhance the risk of civilian harm. The Dutch Minister of Defence never shared this information with the Dutch parliament pointing at its confidentiality. So far, the former has been claiming that the massive damage caused by the blast, could not have been foreseen.
Op 28 April 2020, Dutch lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld has filed a statement of claim against the Dutch Ministry of Defense on behalf of 14 civilian victims of the Dutch bombardment. A redacted version is available in Dutch here. The claimants assert the Dutch state’s liability for the attack that was carried out in breach of international law. If the attack eventually turns out to be unlawful, and the Dutch state is thus liable for its consequences, the Dutch government's voluntary payment is likely not sufficient. The Hawija victims will then have a strong case claiming the Dutch state’s legal obligation to repair their harm.
On 26 November 2020, the Dutch government announced the establishment of a committee tasked to investigate the air strike. Shortly afterwards, on 15 December 2020, the Dutch Minister of Defence announced to make an ex gratia payment of 4 million euros to the affected community of Hawija.
The Nuhanovic Foundation published an article on the case in Dutch newspaper: https://www.volkskrant.nl/columns-opinie/iets-doen-is-niet-genoeg-voor-de-burgerslachtoffers-van-hawija~b254720f/. See for more info on the case in the media: https://www.trouw.nl/politiek/advocaat-zegveld-kul-nederland-moet-wel-schade-vergoeden-aan-slachtoffers-hawija~b1b45058/