World Bulletin/News Desk
The Dutch state is responsible for the deaths of three Bosnian Muslim men ordered to leave a U.N. compound in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the Dutch Supreme Court said on Friday, in a ruling that may impact future peacekeeping missions.
Hasan Nuhanovic, who worked as a U.N. translator during the Balkan wars, filed the case against the Dutch state more than a decade ago, seeking justice for the murders of his mother, father and brother.
The case is the first time Dutch have formally been held accountable for the failings of soldiers in a foreign peacekeeping mission and could pave the way for a flood of compensation claims.
Dutch troops were in charge of a U.N. "safe area" when Bosnian Serb forces overran it in 1995 and killed 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the Srebrenica genocide, Europe's worst massacre since World War Two.
Dutch forces would not allow Nuhanovic relatives to stay on the base because only he was employed by the United Nations. The court ruled on the deaths of his younger brother, father and another man. His mother's case was dropped.
The failed operation was a painful episode in Dutch international affairs and led to the resignation of Labour Prime Minister Wim Kok's government in 2002.
Dozens of Dutch peacekeepers in a mission known as Dutchbat, and operating under a U.N. flag, were outgunned and outmaneuvered by the Bosnian-Serb troops.
The Dutch soldiers, many of whom feared for their own lives, helped the attacking Bosnian-Serb troops as they separated Muslim men from women. The men and boys were then bussed to execution sites.
"Dutchbat decided not to evacuate them along with the battalion and instead sent them away from the compound," a summary of the supreme court ruling said.
"Outside the compound they were murdered by the Bosnian-Serb army or related paramilitary groups."
Nuhanovic welcomed the Supreme Court's decision as he stood in the court in The Hague, where survivors of the massacre hugged and wept.
"In the future, countries might act differently in peacekeeping missions and I hope the lives of other people in the future will be saved because this mistake was admitted," Nuhanovic said.
The Supreme Court upheld an appeals court ruling from 2011, which ordered that the relatives of the victims be compensated but did not state the amount.
The verdict, which is final, could make other states reluctant to participate in foreign military operations if their troops can be held responsible when things go wrong.
"The Supreme Court has held that public international law allows conduct to be attributed not only to the United Nations, which was in charge of the peace mission, but also to the state because the latter had effective control over the disputed conduct of Dutchbat," it said.
Liesbeth Zegveld, the Dutch lawyer who represented the victims, told reporters the decision had important implications.
"The most important conclusion is that a U.N. flag doesn't give you immunity as a state or as an individual soldier," she said.
At least 4,014 people have been transferred to refugee centers on Tuesday, the camp official says
Despite capturing world wild fame after the publication of her picture in National Geographic in 1985, the struggle of Sharbat Gula remains after she was arrested for illegally possessing a Pakistani ID card.
Francois Hollande says assault on Raqqah, Syria, should follow recapture of Iraqi city
EU ambassador reiterates European support for Peshmerga in ongoing fight against ISIL group
Opposition lawmakers approve plan to launch impeachment process against president
Deal with Socialists gives acting prime minister chance to form administration
Move sparks fears of sectarian tension, conflict in ethnically-diverse city
European Commission says controls should stay for further 3 months
Head of Libya’s UN-backed unity government voices readiness to step up security, military cooperation with Moscow
It said the group was led by Syla, who surrendered to authorities in April two days after a major police probe and was placed under house arrest.
Col. Habiarimana Mucebo is said to be in charge of intelligence in the Rwandan extremist group, FDLR
French authorities transfer about 2,500 people voluntarily out of the informal camp for refugees and migrants
Amnesty International calls for independent hybrid court to prosecute government's crimes in the capital Juba last July
Scores of ISIL militants mounted a daring attack on Rutba on Monday
More than 240 Palestinians have been killed since an uptick in Israeli-Palestinian violence since October