Court ruling: Netherlands at fault in 300 Srebenica expulsions
A court in The Hague has held the Netherlands responsible for the 1995 expulsions of 300 Muslims in Srebenica in 1995, as the country could have known that certain death awaited the men in the hands of Bosnian Serbs.
The court thus partially ruled conform the demands of relatives of 6,000 victim of the war; it did not hold the Netherlands responsible for the fall of Srebrenica and the fact that the enclave did not receive airforce support, as the “Mothers of Srebenica” had charged. The enclave fell on July 11 1995, while under protection of the Dutch UN battalion Dutchbat; thousands of men and boys who had sought refuge in the Dutch encampment were separated from the women, taken away and executed. During the watch of the Dutch corps, a total of 8,000 muslim men were massacred. Mothers of Srebrenica holds the Dutch state responsible for the drama and demanded that the country pay for the rape, torture, deportation, executions and looting that took place in an area the UN had characterized as “safe” and that was under Dutch military watch. The court ruled that it was only on July 13 that Dutchbat learned of the genocide being committed by the Bosnian Serbs; it did hold the battalion responsible for still allowing the troops of General Mladic to take people away up to that day. The court also ruled that men who fled into the forests could not be considered under the responsibility of Dutchbat. Mothers of Srebrenica had argued that Dutch soldiers had received orders not to take too many risks, which the surviving relatives of the massacred people charge is against UN mandates. Mothers of Srebrenica had also tried to pin blame on the UN, but that case stranded at the European Court of Human Rights in 2012 as the UN has absolute immunity. The Dutch state had attempted to find refuge in UN immunity –as Dutchbat fell under UN and not Dutch command-, but the court obviously disagreed. The state had argued that it was not responsible for the death of the 300 men, that the Dutchbat soldiers’ hands had been tied, that they had no choice but to assist with the evacuation and that there had been no way that they could have foreseen the genocide. Last year the Appellate Court had already awarded €20,000 in compensation to surviving relatives of three Muslim mem who had been refused shelter at the Dutchbat camp in Srebrenica.