Srebrenica massacre survivors open civil suit against Dutch government

[JURIST] A civil lawsuit against the Dutch government filed by mothers and widows of men killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [BBC timeline; JURIST news archive] opened in the Hague District Court [official website] on Monday. The Mothers of Srebrenica [advocacy website], a group representing 6,000 women who lost family members during the massacre, originally filed the lawsuit [Guardian report; court backgrounder] in 2007, seeking compensation and acknowledgement that UN-backed Dutch troops failed to protect adequately their Muslim husbands and sons from a rebel Bosnian-Serb attack that resulted in 8,000 deaths. The women reportedly allege that the Dutch government violated international law by inadequately equipping troops to repel the forces of General Ratko Mladic [ICTY backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The Dutch government contends that it had no direct control over the troops, who were part of a UN peacekeeping mission in Srebrenica. Mladic is facing charges of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website].

Survivors have filed similar suits against the Dutch government relating to the massacre. The Supreme Court of the Netherlands in September ruled [JURIST report] that the state was responsible for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslims who were murdered shortly after being forced to leave a UN designated "safe area" controlled by the Dutch Battalion (Dutchbat) during the massacre. Relatives of the victims filed the complaint [JURIST report] with the Dutch prosecutor's office in July 2010 alleging that three Dutch soldiers, operating as UN peacekeepers, were complicit in the commission of war crimes and genocide during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The complaint argued that the soldiers knew the victims would be killed if they were handed over to Serbian troops.

 

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