[JURIST] A complaint was filed with the Dutch prosecutor’s office on Tuesday alleging that three Dutch soldiers, operating as UN peacekeepers, were complicit in the commission of war crimes and genocide during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [BBC timeline; JURIST news archive], which resulted in the death of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys. The complaint was filed by the relatives of two of the victims and contends that the soldiers knew the victims would be killed if they were handed over to Serbian troops led by Serbian general Ratko Mladic [JURIST news archive]. According to the complaint, the soldiers forced the victims from a UN-designated “safe area” [resolution materials], resulting in their deaths. The complaint also states that the men knew about the Serbian hatred of Muslims [Dutch News report] and about the previous execution of Muslims, making the soldiers complicit in the deaths of the victims. The lawyer representing the families has stated that evidence against the peacekeepers includes the fact that they expressed concern about the possibility of mass execution [RNW report] but still evicted the men from the base that was being protected by Dutch troops. The Dutch prosecutor will now consider whether to investigate the charges. If the men were to be convicted, they could face a sentence of life in prison.
Relatives of the victims of the Srebrenica massacre have previously sought justice for the actions of Dutch peacekeeping forces, which they say led to the massacre. In March, the Hague Appeals Court [official website, in Dutch] upheld [judgment, in Dutch; press release] the UN’s immunity from prosecution by rejecting claims [JURIST report] brought by relatives of victims of the massacre. 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 “safe area” and turning them over to Bosnian Serbs. 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.