Establishment of an independent commission of inquiry for Hawija

In October 2020, the Dutch government announced that it would set up an independent investigation into the bombing of an ISIS bomb-factory in the Iraqi town of Hawija on June 2015. The news came months after the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) had stated that it would not carry out an inquiry into the aerial attack of Hawija, notwithstanding a request by the Dutch parliamentarian, Salima Belhaj, in a Motion on 12 May 2020, that was adopted by the House of Representatives.

The government officially established the independent commission of inquiry on 26 November 2020. The three-member committee, which is set to start its investigation in January 2021, has the task of examining how the weapon deployment resulted in civilian casualties and to identify what lessons can be learned for the future.

Soon after the establishment of the committee, in December 2020, the Dutch government declared that it would offer compensation to the affected community of Hawija. Nevertheless, it highlighted that such a voluntary payment was not an admission of liability for what – according to official statements – was an attack against a legitimate target.

The Netherlands announced that monetary payments would not be disbursed to individuals. Instead, the compensation measures for Hawija will comprise a combination of projects aimed at remedying the damages caused by the bombing of the ISIS factory.