Thursday 09 December 2021

Srebrenica massacre back in spotlight as two legal cases start

An organisation representing the families of men and boys who died in the Srebrenica massacre during the Yugoslavia civil war in 1995 are back in court in the Netherlands on Monday in an effort to have their case against the Dutch state heard.

The Dutch supreme court and European Court of Justice said earlier the women, known as the Mothers of Srebrenica, cannot take the United Nations to court for failing to protect their menfolk because the UN’s immunity from prosecution is absolute.

The women claim the UN and the Netherlands did too little to protect husbands and sons in the Muslim enclave when it came under attack from Serb forces. Some 8,000 men and boys were taken away and killed. The enclave was under the protection of Dutch troops at the time.

Three men

The new civil case follows a decision by the Dutch supreme court last year, which said the Dutch state is responsible for the death of three Muslim men during the siege of Srebrenica.

After the fall of the enclave, effective control passed from the United Nations to the Dutch army, which was the responsibility of the Dutch state, the court said in its long-awaited ruling.

Relatives of the three men, who were murdered after the Dutch army sent them out of the compound, have been involved in a legal campaign since 2002.


Meanwhile, Nos television reports that the relatives are now taking legal action against Thom Karremans, who was in charge of the Dutch forces at the time. He and two other senior military officials should be tried for war crimes and genocide, Nos quotes the families’ lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld as saying.

She says last year’s ruling was based on political considerations rather than criminal legal grounds. Zegveld has filed an ‘article 12’ procedure at Arnhem appeal court.

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