This Monday, survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre opened a civil suit against the Dutch government. They argue that the Dutch peacekeepers in Srebrenica did not protect the victims of Europe’s worst massacre since the second world war.
“They did not prevent the murder of thousands of civilians,” the group’s lawyer, Marco Gerritsen, told the district court in The Hague, where the case is being heard.
The legal action was first brought in 2007 by victims’ group the Mothers of Srebrenica, in connection with the massacre during Bosnia’s three-year war in the early 1990s.
The Mothers of Srebrenica, representing some 6,000 widows and victims’ relatives, have been seeking justice for several years for the massacre, which the UN’s international court of justice has ruled was genocide.
“The Mothers of Srebrenica want the responsibility of the Dutch to be recognised and then compensation, even though this is less important to them,” said Semir Guzin, another victim’s lawyer.
The Dutch state’s lawyer argued that the Netherlands had no direct control over the Dutch unit during the peacekeeping operation.
“It is about Dutch soldiers, but Dutch soldiers wearing blue helmets and therefore completely under UN control.”
Dutch courts have previously refused to hear a request by the Mothers of Srebrenica to prosecute the UN for the killings, saying the international organisation had immunity.
Last year the European court of human rights agreed with that immunity decision.
The civil proceedings against the Dutch state being heard on Monday had been put on hold pending the outcome of the case against the UN.