Concern over legal position of troops

8th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

8 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — Dutch MPs were called to an emergency debate on Tuesday over the deployment of 250 soldiers in Afghanistan after military union AFMP raised concerns about the legal position of the troops.

8 March 2005

AMSTERDAM — Dutch MPs were called to an emergency debate on Tuesday over the deployment of 250 soldiers in Afghanistan after military union AFMP raised concerns about the legal position of the troops.

The Cabinet decided at the end of last month to deploy the elite troops to assist in the hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist operatives along the rugged Afghan-Pakistan border.

But the AFMP has raised serious concerns about the secrecy-shrouded mission, claiming that the legal position of the soldiers is unclear, RTL News reported.

The Dutch soldiers will work alongside the British and Americans in Afghanistan, which means they will be confronted with different military rules of engagement.

Defence Minister Henk Kamp claims that clear agreements have been made over the legal position of the Dutch soldiers. But AFMP is not satisfied, asserting that the minister must provide greater clarity.

The troops can depart by the end of the month If Kamp convinces the Parliament on Tuesday that there is adequate legal clarity about the mission.

The unit will consist of 165 commandos and marines, supported by 85 helicopter personnel and military police. Four transport helicopters will also be transported to Afghanistan.

But AFMP has also raised concerns that confusion could arise based on the fact that Dutch troops are already serving on a peacekeeping role with the Nato-led ISAF force in Afghanistan.

The union says it is "unwise to conduct two missions with such diverging characteristics in one country at the same time".

Outrage erupted last year when a Dutch soldier was arrested in Iraq after a shooting incident during a looting allegedly ended in the death of an Iraqi man.

Marine Erik O. was charged with murder or manslaughter, but military unions claimed rules of engagement issued to Dutch peacekeeping troops in Iraq were unclear Minister Kamp dismissed the claims.

The most serious charges were later dropped and Arnhem Court acquitted O. in October of breaching military regulations. The public prosecutor has lodged an appeal.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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