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Netherlands: Court awards €26,000 to father over Iraqi invasion fatal shooting

Human rights judges say the Netherlands is accountable for its inadequate investigation into the fatal military shooting of an Iraqi civilian.

The case Jaloud v. the Netherlands (application no. 47708/08), was brought to the European Court of Human Rights by Sabah Jaloud, an Iraqi national born in 1943, who lives in An-Nasiryah, Iraq.

He is the father of Azhar Sabah Jaloud, who died, aged 29, of gunshot wounds on 21 April 2004 in an incident involving Netherlands Royal Army personnel in Iraq.

In today’s Grand Chamber judgment in the case the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 2 (right to life – procedural obligations) of the European Convention on Human Rights, as regards the failure of the Netherlands authorities to carry out an effective investigation into the death of Jaloud’s son.

Just satisfaction (Article 41): The court held that the Netherlands was to pay Sabah Jaloud 25,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 1,372.06 in respect of costs and expenses.

The court established that the complaint about the investigation into the incident – which had occurred in an area under the command of an officer of the armed forces of the United Kingdom – fell within the jurisdiction of the Netherlands within the meaning of Article 1 of the Convention (contract parties’ obligation to respect the rights guaranteed in the Convention).

The court noted in particular that the Netherlands had retained full command over its military personnel in Iraq.

The court came to the conclusion that the investigation had been characterised by serious shortcomings, which had made it ineffective. In particular, records of key witness statements had not been submitted to the judicial authorities; no precautions against collusion had been taken before questioning the Netherlands Army officer who had fired at the car carrying the victim; and the autopsy of the victim’s body had been inadequate.

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