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Preparations for the burial of Srebrenica victims at the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial and Cemetery for the Victims of the 1995 Genocide in 2010 (Photo: Stephanie van den Berg)
28 June 2017 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

The Srebrenica massacre always seems to boil down to numbers when it gets to court. I have sat through many hours of discussions about the actual number of victims, whether that number was large enough to constitute a genocide, the precise times to pinpoint who knew what and when at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and later in the genocide case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

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Women in front a the memorial in Potocari cemetary that lists the names of the Srebrenica dead (Photo: Flickr/RNW)
07 October 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg

After the supreme court ruled in 2013 in the Nuhanovic case [IJT- 173] that the Dutch state was liable for at least three deaths of Bosnian Muslims who had sought refuge on the UN compound in Srebrenica manned by Dutch troops after the fall of the enclave, there has been a constant battle between the state and representatives of the victims trying to expand the Dutch liability to include more victims.

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Refugees arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos in September 2015 (Photo: Flickr/Ben White - CAFOD)
08 March 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Parallel to calls for the establishment of an international tribunal to address alleged war crimes committed in Syria [IJT-169], many European countries say they have stepped up screening procedures to weed out possible war criminals amid the influx of Syrian refugees. The Netherlands, which has been somewhat of a pioneer in this regard, last week announced that in 2015 they denied asylum to 10 Syrian nationals because they are suspected of committing war crimes. But past experience points to a wide gap between identifying potential perpetrators and actually bringing them to justice.

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Helen Mack, sister of murdered Guatemalan anthropologist Myrna Mack, speaks at March 2015 meeting of La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) (Photo: Flickr/cidh/Daniel Cima)
02 December 2015

IJT 188 takes a close look at Guatemala's newly opened 'high-risk' court, which many hope will expedite lawsuits concerning the country's decades-long armed conflict. 

Other features:

  • In the Netherlands, an Afghan army commander-turned-Dutch national was arrested and accused of war crimes allegedly committed in 1979.
  • In Bangladesh, two men were hanged for committing international crimes during the war of independence, compelling many Bangladeshis to celebrate and international human rights organizations to question the International Crimes Tribunal's fairness.
  • While ICC state parties held their annual meeting last month in The Hague, groups discussed on the side whether ecocide could become the fifth crime against peace.

 

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A sign marks the entrance of the asylum application centre of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (Photo: Flickr/directie_voorlichting_venj)
12 November 2015 by Benjamin Duerr, The Hague (The Netherlands)

In an extraordinary case testing the boundaries of universal jurisdiction and refugee law, an alleged war criminal of Afghan origin who had acquired Dutch nationality has been arrested in the Netherlands at the initiative of victims.

 

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18 November 2011 by -

“Courage, Mama!” is the cry that reverberates throughout the courtroom in The Hague. The 64-year-old woman in the dock blows kisses to her weeping daughters. “The truth shall triumph,” vows Yvonne Basebya, suspect in the first genocide case against a Dutch citizen. The facts of the case occurred some 5,000 kilometres away and the legal procedure has been sluggish.

By Thijs Bouwknegt, The Hague

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27 January 2010 by -

Retired pilot Julio Poch will be extradited to Argentina to face charges of running ‘death flights’ under the country’s former military dictatorship. Spain’s National Court ruled last week that there are sufficient guarantees to ensure that Poch would receive a fair trial in Argentina.

Julio Alberto Poch, a former pilot with the Dutch Transavia Airlines, is wanted in Argentina for allegedly flying planes used to dump opponents of the military regime into the sea - known as ‘death flights’.

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14 October 2009 by -

Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin has drafted a bill that will extend the possibility of detecting and prosecuting genocide. The bill allows the Netherlands to better address war crimes and genocide suspects retroactively and to work closer with international criminal courts. The proposed bill stipulates that cases dating back as far as 1966 could be dealt with.

By Thijs Bouwknegt

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23 December 2009 by -

Almost three months after his arrest, Transavia pilot Julio Poch is still sitting in a Spanish prison, awaiting his next destination. A Dutch judge ruled last week that the Netherlands does not have to ask Spain to extradite him, meaning Poch will probably stand trial in Argentina.

The Buenos Aires-born pilot is charged with human rights abuses committed during Argentina’s military dictatorship that ruled from 1976 to 1983.

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22 November 2004 by -

Almost ten years after Bosnian Serb forces massacred nearly eight thousand Bosnians in Srebrenica, their ghosts continue to prick the conscience of the powerful western countries in charge of protecting them under the UN banner. Civil actions have recently been filed in the Netherlands and France to try and gain recognition of collective responsibility and to claim compensation for victims. While one case is being brought against the UN in France, a turning point in the search for collective legal responsibility in the Netherlands has been reached.

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