Inside the legal battle of the Mothers of Srebrenica against the Dutch State

07 July 2015 by Marco Gerritsen and Simon van der Sluijs

In this article, Marco Gerritsen and Simon van der Sluijs of law firm Van Diepen Van der Kroef Advocaten, leading counsel for the Mothers of Srebrenica, give an inside view on their clients' proceedings against the Dutch State.

Coffins of Srebrenica victims are kept inside barracks belonging to the former Dutchbat compound before an 11 July ceremonial burial across the road at the cemetery in Potocari (Photo: Flickr/ mikel_oibar)
Image caption: 
Coffins of Srebrenica victims are kept inside barracks belonging to the former Dutchbat compound before an 11 July ceremonial burial across the road at the cemetery in Potocari (Photo: Flickr/ mikel_oibar)

11 July 2015 marks 20 years since the first genocide in Europe after World War II took place. In the mountain town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia, over 8,000 people were murdered despite being under the protection of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR). For 20 years the relatives of the victims have sought recognition and justice. Though the main actors in this massacre have been brought to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the role of the State of the Netherlands (the State) and the Dutch UNPROFOR battalion (Dutchbat) is still subject to a drawn-out legal battle.

In 2006, on behalf of approximately 6,000 relatives of the victims, a group known as the Mothers of Srebrenica, we requested a meeting with the Dutch government to discuss how to deal with this delicate matter. Instead of taking our outstretched hand, the government referred us to the courts. Since then, every attempt to have talks has been dismissed by the Dutch government.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

article
11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

article
23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

article
United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

article
06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.