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MOTHERS OF SREBRENICA FILE APPEAL IN A CASE AGAINST THE NETHERLANDS

April 9, 2009 Comments off

PRESS RELEASE

Statement of Appeal in Srebrenica case filed today

In the legal proceedings brought by the Mothers of Srebrenica against the State of the Netherlands and the United Nations, the District Court in The Hague ruled in first instance that the United Nations have absolute immunity and therefore can never be summoned before any court of law. The Mothers of Srebrenica have appealed this judgement. The Court of Appeal in The Hague is addressing this legal matter. The Statement of Appeal will be filed today (the English version of the Statement will be published soon on our website).

In their appeal, the Mothers of Srebrenica draw support from the judgement of the European Court of Justice of 3 September 2008 (Kadi & Al-Barakaat) in which the European Court ruled that the UN does not have absolute immunity. In the case Al-Barakaat the European Court ruled among other things that an absolute immunity is not legitimate. The European Court furthermore ruled that an effective remedy is a fundamental right within the legal order of the European Community, which may not be violated. In view of this ruling, the argument that the UN can uphold its immunity successfully cannot be upheld.

Amsterdam, 7 April 2009

Dr. Axel Hagedorn & Marco Gerritsen
Van Diepen Van der Kroef Advocaten
Dijsselhofplantsoen 14-18
1077 BL Amsterdam
Tel +31 (0)20 5747474
Fax +31 (0)20 5747475
www.vandiepen.com

***

Support the Foundation Mothers of Srebrenica

If you want to support the foundation and its activities, among others donations can be made to the bank account mentioned below. Your support is very much appreciated.

Foundation: Mothers of Srebrenica
Address: Dijsselhofplantsoen 16-18
1077 BL Amsterdam
Bank: ABN-AMRO Bank
Account no: 54.15.56.355
IBAN: NL 30 ABNA 054 15 56 355
BIC-code: ABNANL2A

Continue your research:
1. Srebrenica genocide survivors attend a hearing against the Dutch state
2. Dutch graffiti and a sickening legacy of the United Nations in Srebrenica
3. U.N. & Dutch complicity in the Srebrenica genocide
4. Court dismisses legal immunity for the United Nations and the Netherlands
5. Srebrenica genocide survivors sue Netherlands and the United Nations
6. Mothers of Srebrenica vs Netherlands: Case Dismissed

ORDER BOOKS!
1. The United Nations on Srebrenica’s Pillar of Shame: 104 testimonies
(order this book)

2. Under the UN Flag: The International Community and the Srebrenica Genocide
(order this book)

DUTCH COURT DISMISSES SREBRENICA CASE AGAINST NETHERLANDS

September 11, 2008 4 comments

“One could not have expected a different verdict, because we are dealing with the state, which doesn’t want to accept its responsibility.” – Munira Subasic.

PHOTO: Relatives Mehida Mustafic-Majic, sitting left, her daughter Alma, center, and her son Damir, right, leave the court after the verdict at the District Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.

A Dutch civil court sided with the Dutch state and dismissed the case against the Netherlands for their failure to prevent Srebrenica genocide in 1995. The Srebrenica enclave had been declared a UN “Safe Haven” under the control of Dutchbat before the massacre took place. Dutch soldiers allowed Serb forces to take away more than 8,000 Bosniak men, children, and elderly – actions which resulted in the worst massacre and the first genocide since the World War II in Europe. Thousands of Bosniak women were forcibly deported from the enclave in a U.N.-assisted ethnic cleansing.

The lawsuit against the Netherlands was brought by Hasan Nuhanovic and the family of Rizo Mustafic. Nuhanovic is a survivor of Srebrenica genocide who lost his mother, father and brother in the massacre. Mustafic, who worked as an electrician in the U.N. force’s Dutch battalion (Dutchbat), also died during the Srebrenica genocide. The plaintiffs claimed that both the UN and the Dutch troops failed to take effective action to prevent the massacre, thus violating the UN Convention on genocide.

In June, the Dutch court also rejected another lawsuit brought forward by the association Mothers of Srebrenica, which sought to sue the UN for damages for having failed to protect local civilians and to prevent the massacre.

The latest court ruling said that the Dutch soldiers had acted under the UN flag and the Dutch state could therefore not be held accountable, saying the “actions must be attributed exclusively to the United Nations.” The court ruling also added that if national courts were to start judging United Nations actions and operations, it could have significant negative effects on the future work and decision-making of the UN Security Council.

PHOTO: Hasan Nuhanovic talks to the media after the judgement at the District Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.

The president of the Mothers of Srebrenica association, Munira Subasic, who lost 22 members of her family in the massacres said that “One could not have expected a different verdict, because we are dealing with the state, which doesn’t want to accept its responsibility.”

“Many Dutch soldiers became mentally ill after their Srebrenica mandate where they witnessed mass slaughter and killings,” Subasic said. “It is also known that the Netherlands was sued by its own soldiers,” she added.

“None of the points we presented as evidence to the court over the last six years has been accepted. They have all been rejected. This is a total denial of all accusations presented by the two families,” said Hasan Nuhanovic.

“I have repeated thousands of times that I am not here to blame Dutchbat for their passivity,” Nuhanovic said. “I am accusing them of being active – in violation of the human rights of my family and other refugees. I noticed the judge read several times the sentence ‘under the UN flag’. They referred to the flag under which these Duchbat actions were conducted. However, these actions were conducted under the flag of the Netherlands as well.”

Hasan Nuhanovic said that he feels betrayed by the Dutchbat, “I have been betrayed so many times before by people in my life. The moment I was betrayed was 13 years ago was when I was working with Dutch battalion soldiers, UN officials who knew me and my family personally, they sent my family out to die.”

In June, Nuhanovic had told the court how the Dutch troops expelled his family from the safety of the U.N. compound in Srebrenica. “My mother was crying, I was crying. The only person that wasn’t crying was my brother. He was 22 and very proud. ‘Hasan, don’t beg them for my life any more.'”

Laywer for the Plaintifs, Liesbeth Zegveld, said it was unprecedented that the court did not recognise the suffering of the claimants in any way. “Justice is not a science. It is a choice to see it purely in legal terms.”

SREBRENICA GENOCIDE SURVIVORS AWAIT COURT DECISION

September 9, 2008 1 comment
Decision due on 10.9.2008 at The Hague in first civil court action brought by Srebrenica survivors against Dutch state

Why were Ibro, Nasiha and Muhamed Nuhanovic and Rizo Mustafic sent to their deaths when the United Nations had promised to ensure their safety?

Today the Netherlands District Court in The Hague will deliver its verdict on whether the Dutch state and its contingent of United Nations peace-keeping troops can be held responsible for handing over Bosnian refugees who had looked to them for protection to be murdered by Serb soldiers in July 1995.

“We hope that the Dutch government, along with the international community, will finally accept responsibility for the deaths of 8376 men and boys from the town and for their surviving relatives”, declared GfbV/STP General Secretary Tilman Zülch, speaking in Göttingen, Germany, today. “The eyes and thoughts of all the survivors of the massacre who hold the Dutch UN troops and the Dutch government responsible for the the death of their defenceless relatives are focused on The Hague. The judges must not disappoint them.”

In July 1995 Bosnians who had sought refuge In the UN forces’ base at Potocari were ordered by Dutch UN peacekeepers to leave the safety of the base and sent to face the prospect of certain death with Bosnian refugees already being killed and raped by Serb soldiers only a few metres outside the area under UN protection . The UN forces even denied protection to Bosnians who were known personally to them and to the family of their interpreter.

Six years ago the family of electrician Rizo Mustafic, who was murdered at Srebrenica, and Hasan Nuhanovic, whose parents and brother were also among those killed, began their civil action in the District Court at The Hague. They sought to hold the Dutch state accountable for the failings of the Dutch UN battalion. What the court has to determine is whether the Dutch government and the Dutch command within UNPROFOR should be held accountable for the shameful conduct of Dutch forces who were more concerned for their own safety than they were for the protection of the civilians in their care.

Hasan Nuhanovic lost his parents and his younger brother. His father’s remains have been found in a mass grave and identified but the fate of his mother and brother remains unknown. Many mass graves were subsequently dug up by Serb troops using bulldozers to conceal the evidence. The remains were reburied elsewhere.

Alma Mustafic, daughter of the murdered Rizo Mustafic, has written to GfbV that, “Deep in my heart I am hoping that the court will deliver a just verdict and that these crimes will not be trivialised or denied.”

Background: the tragedy of the Nuhanovic family: Hasan Nuhanovic spent the night of 12-13 July 1995 with his parents and brother in a makeshift office on the UNPROFOR base at Potocari, on the outskirts of Srebrenica, working to the orders of the Dutch officer Andre de Haan. De Haan, who was staying in the same room with them and a doctor and nurse, had in the past been a welcome guest of the family and had enjoyed Mrs Nuhanovic’s cooking.

Nevertheless he did nothing to help her as she came close to breaking down on hearing that nine men had been killed in the area in front of the UNPROFOR base . The following morning, between 5 and 6 a.m., de Haan said, “Hasan, tell your mother, your brother and your father they must leave the base.”

Nuhanovic has painstakingly researched the story of the terrible events at Srebrenica which he documented in meticulous detail in his 550-page book, “Under the UN Flag”, before taking his case to court.

Jasna Causevic, GfbV/STP’s Southern Europe desk officer, can be contacted in The Hague by telephone on +49 179 524 35 38.

DISTRICT COURT’S RULING AWAITED ON THE DUTCH STATE’S FAILURE TO PROTECT CIVILIAN REFUGEES FROM GENOCIDE AT SREBRENICA

September 9, 2008 Comments off
Judgment in two civil actions due to be given at 10 a.m. on 10 September 2008 in the District Court at The Hague (Prins Clauslaan 60, The Hague, Netherlands).

On 10 September 2008 the District Court at The Hague will give its decision in the first civil actions brought against the Dutch State by relatives of the victims of genocide at Srebrenica. Hasan Nuhanovic and the family of Rizo Mustafic are seeking to establish that the Dutch state is responsible for the failure of Dutch troops acting under a United Nations mandate to protect their family members who were massacred at Srebrenica in July 1995.

Hasan Nuhanovic, a U.N. interpreter who lost his father, mother and younger brother, and the family of Rizo Mustafic, an electrician employed by the Dutch battalion of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), claim that the Dutch government failed to protect the lives of their relatives after the safe area established by U.N. Security Council Resolution around the town of Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia was allowed to fall into the hands of the Bosnian Serb Army.

The Nuhanovic and Mustafic families were among thousands of refugees who sought protection inside the compound of the U.N. base at Potocari but were handed over by the Dutch UNPROFOR forces to Serb General Ratko Mladic. Dutch soldiers in U.N. blue helmets are alleged to have watched on as women and young girls were taken away and raped and men and boys separated before being taken away for summary execution.

In a tort action against the Dutch state in which much of the legal debate has revolved around the division of responsibility between the United Nations and national states, the plaintiffs’ lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld has argued that the Dutch government and the Dutch command within UNPROFOR were responsible for the gross negligence shown by Dutch troops, they were primarily concerned for the safety of their national contingent and they showed scant regard for the safety of the civilian population entrusted to their care.

The families have been concerned above all to establish the truth about why Ibro, Nasiha and Muhamed Nuhanovic and Rizo Mustafic were sent to their deaths in brutal circumstances when the United Nations had promised to ensure their safety.

The final hearing before the District Court on 16 June 2008 took place before the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, President of the Bosnian Serb Republika Srpska. Since the hearing Karadzic has been charged with responsibility for the genocide at Srebrenica and is currently in The Hague awaiting trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Contact person:Prof. Dr Liesbeth Zegveld, Böhler Franken Koppe Wijngaarden (BFKW) , Attorneys, Keizersgracht 560-562, Amsterdam 1017 EM, Tel.: +31 20 – 344 62 00, Fax: +31 20 – 344 62 01, e-mail: <lzegveld@bfkw.nl>

Prof. Dr. Liesbeth Zegveld studied law at Utrecht. She obtained her doctorate with distinction in 2000 and was sworn in as an attorney in Amsterdam the same year. In 2005 she became a partner at Böhler Franken Koppe Wijngaarden, where she is a member of the international law & human rights department. She has written many articles on issues in the field of international humanitarian law. She is a guest lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and a member of the International Law Association’s Committee for Compensation for War Victims. In September 2006 she was appointed professor of International Humanitarian Law, in particular the Rights of Women and Children, at Leiden University.

DUTCH GRAFFITI IN SREBRENICA: SICKENING LEGACY OF THE UNITED NATIONS IN SREBRENICA

June 27, 2008 25 comments
WARNING: Some of the material that the United Nations’ Dutcbat ‘peacekeepers’ left in Srebrenica is explicit and highly offensive. Proceed viewing this material at your own risk.

Intro: This is the mountain road south of town where Dutch UN troops maintained observation posts. Facing the Bosnian Serb offensive in July 1995, the Dutch retreated without firing a shot. The town was taken, and the genocide of over 8,000 Bosniaks began. The forcible transfer (ethnic cleansing) of tens of thousands of people was assisted by the United Nations.

(can click on images for higher resolution photos)

Almost 13 years after the worst European genocide since World War II, the Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica still serve as a reminder of a shameful Dutch incompetence and a sickening arrogance they had towards their UN mission and people they ought to protect.

Oblivious to the fact that a horrible genocide was just about to happen before their eyes, the Dutch troops stationed at the UN base in Potocari spent their time “decorating” walls with drawings and graffiti. Some of these disgusting Dutch graffiti are XXX-rated, so it’s up to you whether you want to proceed with viewing this sickening material that Dutch soldiers left behind themselves in Srebrenica…

PHOTO: While people of Srebrenica were starving, Dutch U.N. ‘peacekeepers’ enjoyed T-bone Steaks, Spare Ribs, Schnitzels (see the ‘Dutchbat Menu’ above) and XXX-rated porn, as you will see from disgusting Dutch graffiti below…. Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: XXX-rated Dutch graffiti (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari) in Srebrenica, see right side wall drawing. Man in the photo is Abdulah, one of few who survived the four-day-long march through the forests around Srebrenica while the Serb Chetniks were shelling them with artillery and committing genocide in and around Srebrenica.

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica read “My ass is like a local. It’s got the smell same. Bosnia ’94” (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).
PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica read “I’m your best friend. I kill you for nothing. Bosnie 94.” (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).


PHOTO: XXX-rated Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica read “No Teeth…! A Mustache…? Smel Like Shit…? Bosnian Girl!” (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica read “UN, United Nothing.” (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: XXX-rated Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: XXX-rated Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: ” Lick my Ass.” Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: “Nema Problema” translates as “No Problems” in Bosnian language. Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

PHOTO: Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica read “No Teeth…! A Mustache…? Smel Like Shit…? Bosnian Girl!” (Dutchbat Camp in Potocari).

U.N. & DUTCH COWARDS ON TRIAL (ANALYSIS)

June 6, 2007 7 comments

…The Serbs began to “march girls and young women away from the group of refugees. They were raped.” ….A Dutch soldier stood by and watched as the women were raped, even listening to music on his Walkman…. A Serb, says Subasic, “told the mother to make the child stop crying. But when the baby continued to cry, he took it from the mother and slit its throat. Then he laughed. A Dutch soldier also witnessed the murder of the baby, she says, and yet he “didn’t react at all”… The Muslim men, some as young as 12, were almost all murdered. The scenes that transpired in the camp are indescribable. The Serbs would pick out girls from groups. “I saw the Bosnian women begging the Dutchbat soldiers to bring the girls back,” Kadira Gabeljic, one of the plaintiffs, recalls. But they only responded: “no, no, no.” Ramiza Gurdic, another plaintiff, witnessed an incident that she is unlikely to ever forget. She describes a scene in which a 10-year-old boy was placed in his mother’s lap and literally slaughtered. “His little head was chopped off, and the body remained in the mother’s lap.”

Dutch lawyers Axel Hagedorn and Marco Gerritsen, a “Mother of Srebrenica” Maunira Subasic, and lawyers Faruli Capina and Semir Guzin on their way to deliver a civil summons at the Dutch Supreme Court in the Hague, the Netherlands on Monday.

By Udo Ludwig and Ansgar Mertin

Survivors of Bosnians killed in Srebrenica are suing the Dutch government and the United Nations for damages, on the grounds that UN peacekeepers failed to adequately protect the population.

Munira Subasic, from the town of Vogosca near Sarajevo, lost 22 members of her family during the massacre at Srebrenica that lasted several days in mid-July 1995. Nine years after Serbian militias murdered more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, Subasic had to identify and later bury her dead husband. Her 20-year-old son Nermin remains missing today.

The deaths of her family members are not the 58-year-old Subasic’s only inextinguishable memory. To this day, she is still unable to overcome the bitter hours of July 12, when she was staying in a refugee camp near Srebrenica. Dutch United Nations peacekeepers were assigned to protect the camp. But at some point, says Subasic, the Serbs began to “march girls and young women away from the group of refugees. They were raped.”

She also witnessed the murder of a baby. A Serb, says Subasic, “told the mother to make the child stop crying. But when the baby continued to cry, he took it from the mother and slit its throat. Then he laughed.”

Almost 12 years after these crimes were committed, Subasic’s descriptions have acquired new force. Especially now that she has reported that Bosnians were not the only ones to witness such barbaric acts. According to Subasic, a Dutch soldier stood by and watched as the women were raped, even listening to music on his Walkman. A Dutch soldier also witnessed the murder of the baby, she says, and yet he “didn’t react at all.”

Subasic’s story, and others like it, have triggered a new wave of outrage this week. They are part of a 228-page complaint filed on Monday in a court in The Hague. An Amsterdam law firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of Munira Subasic and almost 6,000 other survivors against the Dutch government and the UN.

The Worst Genocide since World War II

The suit alleges that although the Serbs’ murderous intentions were known, neither the Dutch, as a protective power, nor the UN, as the organization providing the mandate, took steps to save the local population. The attorneys are demanding €25,000 in initial damages for each plaintiff, as well as overall damages that have yet to be determined, for what they call the “worst genocide since World War II.”

The disgraceful role the Dutch played in Bosnia has already been investigated by a number of commissions in the Netherlands, and it even led to the resignation of Prime Minister Wim Kok in 2002. But the current suit ventures into virgin territory in international law. It revolves around whether and to what extent UN peacekeepers charged with protecting a foreign population can be held accountable for their mistakes.

The judges will also be faced with the fundamental question of whether the UN can be held responsible for the failures of a military force under its command. It will be the first time that the global organization will be taken to court because soldiers operating under the UN banner were either unwilling or unable to protect the people they had been ordered to protect.

The attorneys responsible for filing the suit, Axel Hagedorn and Marco Gerritsen, of the Amsterdam law firm Van Diepen Van der Kroef, spent years preparing their brief. In it they paint a picture of a force that was incompetent, disinterested and solely concerned about the health and wellbeing of its own soldiers.

Even the training of the UN peacekeepers for the mission in the Balkans was extremely unprofessional, the lawyers write, charging that they were sent to Bosnia without adequate training in the first place.

The light weapons carried by the Dutch battalion, known as Dutchbat, also proved to be completely unrealistic. The unit was careful not to appear too warlike, instead preferring to come across as peaceable. But this stance would come back to haunt them. By early 1995, only about 10 percent of Dutch convoys actually made it through the Serbian ranks, leading to dramatic shortages of ammunition, food and medical supplies.

The Bosnian Serbs, led by Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, were able to gradually prepare their assault against the UN-protected zone, where there were about 40,000 Bosnians. But the Dutch remained persistently lethargic. General Bernard Janvier, the French commander of UN forces in Zagreb, told a national investigative commission: “If we had had 400 Frenchmen in Srebrenica, things would have been different. We would have fought seriously.”

When a UN observation post near Srebrenica was attacked on July 8 and the Dutchbat command requested air support, nothing happened. Dutch soldiers later claimed that UN military officials in Sarajevo had refused to send the planes. “This is simply untrue,” according to attorney Hagedorn, who says that the Dutch chief of staff, General Cees Nicolai, turned down the offer of air support, presumably acting on orders from The Hague. Hagedorn claims that Joris Voorhoeve, the Dutch defense minister at the time, intervened by telephone.

The suit alleges that the Dutchbat troops simply abandoned their position when Serbian paramilitary forces approached. “The Dutch had only one goal from the start,” claims attorney Gerritsen, “namely to get all their soldiers home in one piece.”

The Serbs managed to break through the UN defenses. And because they claimed to have 15 Dutch soldiers in custody, the Dutch commanders continued to categorically reject any air support. But a few peacekeepers didn’t even abandon their posts under duress. “They went along with the Serbs of their own accord,” says Gerritsen, “and with the blessing of the Dutch military leadership.”

With Srebrenica captured, the Serbs had reached their objective. A few frightened Dutchmen even laid down their weapons — a total of 199 rifles, 25 submachine guns, 28 pistols and 29 machine guns. Dutchbat officers advised the terrified women and children to flee to the refugee camp in the nearby town of Potocari, where they told them they would be safe. Between 10,000 and 15,000 men escaped into the forests, planning to make their way to Tuzla, which was considered safer. But very few made it. Most were blown up by landmines, captured or shot to death by the thousands.

Torture, Executions and Slaughter

The refugee camp in Potocari accepted only one in six of about 30,000 Bosnians seeking shelter there. The rest were forced to stay outside the camp. The situation became critical on July 12, when Serbs standing at the gate demanded to be allowed in to inspect the camp. The Dutchbat troops agreed. To avoid provocations, the UN peacekeepers laid down their weapons and placed them on a pile. When the Serbs began marauding through the camp, the Dutch soldiers simply looked the other way. After returning home, a Dutch soldier later said that he preferred to forget what he experienced on that day: “torture, executions and slaughter.”

Instead of preventing the crimes or at least reporting them to the UN command in Sarajevo, the Dutch are even accused of having actively participated in the selection of Bosnian women and men. The Muslim men, some as young as 12, were almost all murdered. The scenes that transpired in the camp are indescribable. The Serbs would pick out girls from groups. “I saw the Bosnian women begging the Dutchbat soldiers to bring the girls back,” Kadira Gabeljic, one of the plaintiffs, recalls. But they only responded: “no, no, no.”

Ramiza Gurdic, another plaintiff, witnessed an incident that she is unlikely to ever forget. She describes a scene in which a 10-year-old boy was placed in his mother’s lap and literally slaughtered. “His little head was chopped off, and the body remained in the mother’s lap.”

An Obligation to Prevent Genocide

The prosecutors are convinced that the Dutch soldiers were criminally negligent when it came to fulfilling their duty to secure the UN-protected zone. As a result, the suit alleges, they “handed over the population to the bloodthirsty Bosnian Serbs.” The suit has gained impetus from a decision handed down in February by the International Court of Justice, under which states are obligated “to prevent genocide.” The Dutch state played a “controlling role” in the UN peacekeeping mission, says attorney Hagedorn, “and for that reason it must now be held liable for the dramatic consequences.”

The fact that the Amsterdam attorneys are also taking aim at the United Nations is even more relevant for international law. The UN generally enjoys immunity so that it can fulfill its goals. But, the plaintiffs say, that immunity can no longer apply in this case. According to the plaintiffs, the UN approved the Bosnian mission in a number of resolutions and executed it with the help of UN peacekeepers. It would be an unacceptable “concentration of power,” says Hagedorn, “if it cannot even be monitored by the courts anymore.”

Even more important, say the plaintiffs’ attorneys, is the fact that the UN’s immunity was established so that it could pursue its humanitarian goals worldwide. But, says Hagedorn, he cannot imagine “that the UN sees genocide as part of its purpose.”

Translated from the German by Chris Sultan. Republished from Der Spiegel, June 05, 2007: Srebrenica Survivors Sue Netherlands, United Nations. For Fair Use Only [Educational / Non-Commercial].

U.N., DUTCH COMPLICITY IN SREBRENICA GENOCIDE

June 5, 2007 1 comment
Bosnian Serb army Commander General Ratko Mladic, left, drinks a toast with Dutch UN Commander Tom Karremans, second right, while others unidentified look on in village of Potocari, some 5 kilometers north of Srebrenica Wednesday, July 12, 1995.

SURVIVORS OF SREBRENICA MASSACRE FILING PAPERS FOR LAWSUIT AGAINST THE UNITED NATIONS AND DUTCH GOVERNMENT /NEW UPDATE/

Lawyers for thousands of survivors of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II were filing suit Monday against the United Nations and the Dutch government for their failure to protect civilians in the Srebrenica safe haven when Bosnian Serb forces overran it in 1995 and slaughtered some 8,000 men.

“In the last three years a strong case has been built against the Dutch state and the U.N., who will be held jointly responsible for the fall of the enclave and the genocide that took place there as a result,” Dutch law firm Van Diepen Van der Kroef said in a statement. “The procedure must lead to a result whereby the relatives who survived this drama can finally get recognition and a sense of satisfaction.”

The lawyers did not give more details of the suit. (Blog Editor’s Note: See “A Toast to the Dead)

About 200 survivors, known as the Mothers of Srebrenica, were traveling from Bosnia to accompany lawyers as they delivered a civil summons to the Dutch government in the early afternoon, the law firm said. Dutch authorities are expected to pass on details to the U.N.

Bosnian Mufti Mustafa Ceric stands by remains of Muslims
found in Budak mass grave.

During the 1992-95 Bosnian war, the United Nations declared Srebrenica — which had been besieged by Serb forces — a U.N.-protected safe area for civilians.

But around 450 soldiers on peacekeeping duty in Srebrenica stood by helplessly and even assisted in separating women from the men when Bosnian Serb forces stormed the region in July 1995. The men were taken away in buses by the Serb forces and murdered, their bodies plowed into mass graves.

An independent study later cleared the Dutch troops of most blame, noting they were outnumbered, lightly armed and under instructions to fire only in self-defense.

However, the 2002 report assigned partial blame to the Dutch government for setting the troops up to fail, prompting the Cabinet of Prime Minister Wim Kok to resign. The study also found that a French U.N. general inexplicably failed to send air support when it was requested, as had been agreed in advance. (Blog Editor’s Note: NIOD Report was published by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation. This is the document, commissioned by the Dutch government following criticism of the way its peacekeeping force in the Srebrenica behaved at the time of the massacre; therefore, it cannot be considered “independent” or “objective” research tool in the true sense of the meaning).
The Dutch government gives around $20 million (€14.9 million) in aid to Bosnia annually, of which a third is reserved to projects related to rebuilding Srebrenica.

Bosnian Serb military leader Gen. Ratko Mladic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic have both been indicted for genocide in the Srebrenica massacre but remain on the run.

The legal move against the U.N. and the Netherlands came on the day Zdravko Tolimir, a senior Mladic aide during the slaughter in Srebrenica, was to appear before judges at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal for the first time since he was arrested last week.

Tolimir was charged in 2005 by the U.N. tribunal with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination, murder, persecution, forcible transfer and deportation, as well as murder in connection with the Srebrenica massacre.

Related: “A Toast to the Dead

Published by IHT (International Herald Tribune). Republished for Fair Use Only [Educational / Non-Commercial purposes].


Related:
U.N., Dutch Cowards on Trial (analysis)