[JURIST] The Dutch National Prosecution Office [official website, in Dutch] announced Friday that it will open an investigation [press release, in Dutch] into whether Dutch peacekeeping soldiers should face criminal charges for their actions during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [JURIST news archive] in Bosnia. The inquiry was commenced after relatives of victims began proceedings against three soldiers for failing to protect their family members by forcing the victims out of a UN-designated “safe area” [resolution materials] and turning them over to Bosnian Serbs. Srebrenica was under protection of Dutch soldiers serving under the UN when Bosnian Serbs attacked, killing more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims. The relatives claim that, by handing over their family members to the insurgents, the soldiers colluded in genocide [Reuters report]. The prosecution office stated that the investigation would take several month to complete, at which time prosecutors will determine whether to pursue criminal charges.
In March, The Hague Appeals Court [official website, in Dutch] upheld [JURIST report] the UN’s immunity from prosecution by rejecting claims brought by relatives of Srebrenica victims, known as the Mothers of Srebrenica. The accusations were similar to those currently faced by the Dutch solders, claiming the UN failed to protect their family members in the designated “safe area.” 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. 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 (ECJ) [official websites] if necessary.