Following the Supreme Court ruling on 6 September 2013, which held the Netherlands responsible for the death of three men in Srebrenica in 1995, this week on 16 July the Court of The Hague ruled that the Dutch state is accountable for the expelling of another 300 men sent from their compound.
PAX believes it is time for the government to take responsibility for what happened. Programme Leader Dion van den Berg: “The Court of The Hague has found that the leaders of the Dutch UN peacekeeping battalion Dutchbat acted unlawfully on the afternoon of 13 July 1995 when they sent more than 300 men off the compound. The men deported from the compound were subsequently killed by Bosnian Serbs. The Dutch state is now liable for the loss suffered as a result. While the ruling is important for these victims’ families, it is disappointing for the relatives of all of the other men who were murdered.” The ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’, an organisation representing women who lost family members, filed a lawsuit accusing the Dutch state of failing to protect the more than 8,000 men killed during the massacre.
Peace organisation PAX has urged the Dutch government and Parliament to launch a serious political initiative. Van den Berg: “We hope the government will refrain from presenting an appeal and invite the survivors to a series of talks that must lead to an acknowledgement of responsibilities and errors by the Dutch, the offering of a public apology to the survivors, and the creation of a comprehensive aid and compensation programme. We at PAX feel it is important that the relatives of the other men who were murdered should also be included in this process. Hopefully the launching of a political initiative will help to prevent protracted legal proceedings.”
Speaking of the consequences of the ruling for participation in future peace missions: “Rather than taking part in fewer peacekeeping missions, in light of these rulings we need to learn how to improve them.”
Read also the speech by Bert Bakker, former member of the Second Chamber of Representatives (D66) and chairman of the Srebrenica parliamentary commission of inquiry in the Netherlands (2002 – 2003). He delivered his speech during the National Srebrenica Commemoration in The Hague on 11 July 2014.