Dutch court upholds UN immunity for Srebrenica massacre

[JURIST] The Hague Appeals Court [official website, in Dutch] on Tuesday upheld [judgment, in Dutch; press release] the UN's immunity from prosecution by rejecting claims brought by relatives of victims of the Srebrenica massacre [BBC timeline; JURIST news archive] during the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict. The relatives, known as the Mothers of Srebrenica, alleged that the Netherlands should be liable for the deaths because Dutch soldiers operating under the UN flag negligently failed to protect civilians by forcing the victims out of a UN-designated "safe area" [resolution materials] and turning them over to Bosnian Serbs, resulting in the death of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. The court found that immunity is essential to the UN's ability to carry out its duties, and that the Dutch acting as UN peacekeepers could not be held responsible [RNW report]. The decision upheld the district court's 2008 decision to dismiss the claims [JURIST report]. The Mothers of Srebrenica have vowed to appeal the case to the Netherlands Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice if necessary.

Earlier this month, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [case materials; JURIST news archive], charged with committing war crimes during the Bosnian conflict, appeared [JURIST report] before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website] to make his opening statements. Karadzic began by denying any plan to expel Muslims from Serbia, and blaming Muslims and Western countries for triggering the civil war. Karadzic also accused [JURIST report] Bosnians of planting corpses and embellishing reports about fatalities, calling the Srebrenica massacre a farce [Guardian report] promulgated by Bosnian Muslims to incite hatred against Serbian forces. Karadzic is defending himself against 11 counts [amended indictment, PDF] including genocide and murder, and he faces life in prison if convicted.

 

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