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Deadly 2007 Dutch attack on Afghan compound illegal, court rules

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A court in the Netherlands orders the country to compensate families of the 20 victims killed in the air strike.

(Al Jazeera) A court in the Netherlands has ruled that a 2007 bombing of a residential compound in Afghanistan by Dutch forces was unlawful, and it ordered the country to pay compensation to the victims’ families.The District Court of The Hague on Wednesday found that the nighttime attack that killed about 20 civilians violated international humanitarian law.

On June 17, 2007, Dutch F-16 fighter jets dropped 28 guided bombs in the central Afghan province of Uruzgan. Eighteen of them landed on walled compounds near the strategic town of Chora.Dutch forces were part of the United States-led coalition that intervened in Afghanistan in the wake of 2001’s deadly 9/11 suicide hijackings of passenger planes. Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers were accused of harbouring al-Qaeda, which was blamed for the attacks in the US.

The Dutch Ministry of Defence had asked prosecutors almost two years ago to look into the Uruzgan bombing after a report by a war veteran questioned its legitimacy.The ministry had argued the buildings were being used by Taliban fighters when the military hit the compound. The court on Wednesday found otherwise.

“The Netherlands was responsible for the shelling of the houses,” it said in a statement. “It was known these houses were inhabited by civilians. The State invoked the fact the Taliban used the houses for military purposes … and thus that the bombing was not unlawful.”

“But the court rules that the State hasn’t sufficiently made clear on what basis it came to the conclusion that these houses were being used by the Taliban; … therefore, the bombing is illegal,” it ruled.

The court sided with four survivors of the attack who brought a civil suit against the Dutch state for compensation. They were not named in court documents.The victims included the wife, two daughters, three sons and a daughter-in-law of one of the claimants, court papers said.

Dutch government lawyers argued that the Taliban used the compound for military purposes and, although civilians lived there, the attack was justified.But judges said there had been no firing around the compound for at least 15 hours before the bombing.

“The most recent information was already 15 hours old,” the claimants’ lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld told the AFP news agency.

“The intelligence is not of a nature in which one could say, ‘Well, yes please, go ahead with seven bombs,’” the lawyer said.

Judges also ruled on Wednesday that victims should be compensated but amounts would be determined at a later stage.The Dutch defence ministry said it would study the verdict.



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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