Dutch troops ‘10% liable’ for Srebrenica murders: supreme court
The Supreme Court in the Netherlands has upheld the partial liability of the Dutch armed forces for the deaths of around 350 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica, who were expelled from a UN safe area and murdered by Serb forces in July 1995.
The court in the Hague today (Friday) ruled that the Dutchbat detachment could have allowed the Bosniaks to remain and, by expelling them, subjected them to abuse or death.
“Dutchbat acted unlawfully in the evacuation of 350 men,” the judges announced. “They took away the chance of the men to stay out of the hands of the Bosnian Serbs.”
But the court reduced the amount of damages the victims’ relatives were eligible to claim from the Netherlands, lowering the percentage of liability in a 2017 ruling from 30 per cent to 10 per cent.
Bosnian Serb troops went on to execute around 8,000 Muslim males in one of the worst mass killings in Europe since 1945. The Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic was sentenced to a life sentence at a UN war crimes trial in 2017 for ordering the massacre.
The survivors are now only expected to receive around a few thousand euros.
The court said Dutchbat troops had a “slim” chance of preventing the murders. “The Dutch state bears very limited liability in the Mothers of Srebrenica case,” the Supreme Court ruled. “That liability is limited to 10 per cent of the damages suffered by the surviving relatives of approximately 350 victims.”
In 2017 a lower court ruled that the men had a 30-per-cent chance of surviving if they had remained in the compound.
The Mothers of Srebrenica group first sued for compensation about 20 years ago.
In March 1994, 400 lightly armed Dutchbat personnel were sent to Srebrenica to protect the UN-designated “safe area”.
On July 10, 1995, Dutch peacekeepers requested UN air support after Bosnian Serbs shelled their positions as large crowds of refugees gathered around the town.
On July 11, Bosnian Serb forces under convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic seized the town, leading to Dutchbat’s retreat to a nearby compound.
More than 5,000 Muslim refugees sought refuge in the UN compound. The Dutch troops claimed to be outnumbered and outgunned. However, it is unknown whether the Bosnian Serbs would have attacked if the Dutch forces had shown a willingness to fight back.
Dutchbat forced out around 350 males from their fenced-off compound and they were later executed by the Bosnian Serb forces.
Srebrenica. Picture credit: Wikimedia