UN immmunity in Srebrenica case

07 April 2010 by Hermione Gee

The United Nations and the Dutch state cannot be prosecuted for failing to protect Bosnian victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, a Dutch appeals court ruled today, rejecting a suit filed against both parties by a victims rights’ group.

"The Dutch judge in this case upholds the UN’s immunity," the ruling stated, adding that it accepts “the (Dutch) state as a joint party at the side of the UN.”

During the Bosnian War (1992-1995) Srebrenica was a UN safe haven in Bosnia and Herzegovina, protected by Dutch peacekeepers. But in July 1995, Serbian forces entered the area, resulting in the massacre of close to 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

'Totallly helpless'
The victims rights group the Mothers of Srebrenica filed a civil suit against the UN and The Netherlands in 2007. Marco Gerritsen, who represents the group before the Dutch court, said: "Troops were sent to protect these people, but they did not do what was in their power to protect the civilians. These people were left totally helpless against the Serbs. It was a UN mission so, primarily, the responsibility of what happened lays with the UN."

But he says the Dutch government is also to blame: "At a critical point, Dutch ministers called the UN and explicitly asked them - or forced them - to stop the air attacks on the Serbs because they were afraid that Dutch soldiers might be hurt."

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