Netherlands court rules UN immune from Srebrenica lawsuit

[JURIST] The district court of The Hague ruled Thursday that it does not have jurisdiction to hear a case against the UN for its alleged failure to protect civilians during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [BBC timeline; JURIST news archive]. Srebrenica survivors who filed the lawsuit alleged that both the Netherlands and the UN were liable for their failure to protect civilians who had fled to the camp after it was declared [resolution, PDF] a "safe area" by the UN Security Council in 1993. The court began considering the case in November before conceding to the UN's claim of immunity [JURIST report; press briefing transcript] under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations [text, PDF].  The ruling does not prevent the related case against the Netherlands from going forward, and a lawyer for the plaintiffs said that they will appeal the UN case ruling as far as the European Court of Human Rights [official website]. AFP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

Tom Karremans, commander of the Dutch peacekeepers, testified [JURIST report] in 2005 that Dutch troops could not intervene to protect the refugees because early phases of the massacre had initially been represented as an "evacuation." An independent report [text] by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation [official website] found that Bosnian Muslims had been mistakenly advised by Dutch troops to leave from the Srebrenica enclave, although it absolved the Dutch troops of blame because it said the peacekeepers were outnumbered, lightly armed, insufficiently supplied, denied air support, and under rules of engagement that permitted only self-defense.



 

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