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Dutch Court Decides Blame On Srebrenica …

  • July 6th, 2011
  • Posted by 7thmin

srebrenica-grave-wikipedia.jpegOPINION: Old controversies have been revived by an appeal court at The Hague, blaming the Dutch state for the deaths of three men at Srebrenica in 1995.


It goes back to the Dutch Army contingent in that Bosnian town, abandoning the United Nations safe haven area it had been responsible for – handing over civilians to Serb troops over-running the town.

Some 110 strong, the force from a Dutch battalion was under threat from troops led by General Ratko Mladic, outnumbered, outgunned and denied air support or other back-up by the U N command.

Recriminations against the Netherlands began nevertheless, after the massacre of nearly 8000 Muslim civilians from the town, including several taken from the UN areas.


Groups of relatives of the victims began legal action, to pin responsibility on The Netherlands, or the United Nations, and obtain some compensation.

Radio Netherlands outlined some details of the case decided this week, with compensation payments a likely outcome.

“In the summer of 1995, UN electrician Rizo Mustafic and the relatives of UN interpreter Hasan Nuhanovic – all Muslim Bosnians – were forced to leave the Dutch-controlled UN compound in Srebrenica, even though it was known that Bosnian Serbs were carrying out mass executions of Muslim men.

“Mustafic was killed along with Nuhanovic’ father and brother after they left the compound.

“The next of kin filed a lawsuit against the Dutch state.

“Dion van den Berg from NGO Pax Christi – co-organiser of a Srebrenica memorial service on 11 July – says the ruling is the answer to a 16-year quest for recognition…

“He says Mustafic’s relatives missed the verdict because they were preparing to bury the electrician’s body, together with 606 other victims of the massacre, whose bodies were identified this year.”


mladic-may-111.jpgRatko Mladic (picture) also is at The Hague.

He went into hiding after the civil war that broke up former Yugoslavia, only being found  last May, when he was moved to the international court on former Yugoslavia, to face war crimes charges last month.

See EUAustralia Online
: “’Got him!’, (again): this time Mladic”, 27.5.11; “Has anybody seen him?”, 13.7.10; “Karadzic, Rwanda; bad times remembered”, 6.8.08.


Lawyers in The Netherlands say the appeal court has opened the possibility that national governments will become directly culpable over responsible for what their troops do when on UN  missions in other countries.

They do point out however that in this week’s case, the victims had legal standing because of their pre-existing close links with the Dutch forces, as they or their relatives had been employed by them.

Leaving aside the case of this Dutch battalion, the question is alive, as to whether the United Nations itself may now have to accept the extra liability for what happens on its watch.

Such a development would threaten its ability to field viable forces; it  already has trouble getting member countries to stump up money and personnel.

It might however do some good, if it should cause the world body to do more to ensure best practice; considering past incidents where  its presence in troubled places has been a source not only of succour, but of distress – because of the use of pretend soldiers.

Grave misgivings follow the use of member states’ troops where they are undisciplined, under-trained, under-supplied; not much use except for making war on their own people.

They may be given blue helmets, but if prone to selling their petrol and ammunition on the black market, assaulting young girls, and generally creating a major social nuisance, they may be much better not deployed.


Peter Cluskey, “Netherlands ruled at fault over three Srebrenica deaths”, The Irish Times,  Dublin, 6.7.11., (6.7.11).

Jannie Schipper, “Dutch liable for Srebrenica; will it affect UN missions?”, Radio Netherlands, Hilvershum, 5.7.11., (6.7.11).


Mass grave at Srebrenica, Wikipedia; Mladic