Monday 17 January 2022

Dutch state is responsible for removal of 300 Srebrenica men: court

The Dutch state is responsible for the removal of 300 Muslim men from the Dutch army compound following the fall of Srebrenica during the Yugoslavian civil war, a court in The Hague said on Wednesday.

Relatives of the 8,000 men and boys who were taken away and killed by Serb forces say the Dutch government is responsible for all their deaths because Dutch UN soldiers did not intervene when the Serbs overran the enclave.

The court ruled that the Netherlands is not responsible for the death of all 8,000 men but for the 300 who were taken from the army compound on the afternoon of July 13. The Muslim enclave fell to the Serb forces on July 11, 1995.

Danger

‘Dutchbat should have taken into account the possibility that these men would be the victim of genocide and that it can be said with sufficient certainty that, had Dutchbat allowed them to stay at the compound, these men would have remained alive. By cooperating in the deportation of these men, Dutchbat acted unlawfully,’ the court said.

The relatives, known as the Mothers of Srebrenica, lost earlier appeals to the Dutch supreme court and the European court of justice. Both said the Dutch soldiers had immunity because they were under the command of the UN.

The women decided to continue their campaign for justice after the Dutch supreme court said last September that the Dutch state is responsible for the deaths of three Muslim men. They were forced out of the army compound and later killed.

Responsible

The supreme court said that while the soldiers were officially under UN command, the Netherlands had effective leadership and could therefore be held responsible.

Relatives of the three were each offered €20,000 in compensation for the death of their loved ones.

The Hague court also ruled on Wednesday that the Netherlands could not be held responsible for the fall of Srebrenica itself because of the lack of UN air support.

Lawyers representing the women have already said they will appeal against the ruling, news agency Novum said.

Read the ruling (English)

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