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.

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