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Bosnia atrocity families take Dutch state to European court

Published on January 20, 2020

An association of women who lost relatives in the 1995 Srebenica massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslims on Monday filed a case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the Netherlands.

The Mothers of Srebenica has accused the Netherlands of failure to protect the men and boys against Bosnian Serb forces in what became the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.

Representing families of the slaughtered, the group blames Dutch peacekeepers deployed in Srebenica just a few months before the end of the Bosnian war.

Bosnian Serbs brushed aside the lightly armed “Dutchbat” blue helmets in a “safe area” where thousands of Muslims from surrounding villages had gathered.

“The mothers of Srebenica have today filed a case against the Dutch state at the ECHR in Strasbourg,” lawyers Marco Gerritsen Simon van der Sluijs said in a statement, accusing the Netherlands of “not taking sufficient measures to protect” the population.

The case has been making its way through the Dutch courts since 2007, but has met little success.

The Dutch Supreme Court ruled last year that the Netherlands bore “very limited” responsibility for the massacre.

Lawyers for the victims’ group said that was a “totally arbitrary decision”.

“According to the Supreme Court, these men would probably have been killed whatever happened, even if they had been authorised to remain in the compound. There was however no factual debate about their chances of survival,” the lawyers wrote on Monday.

“That violates article 6 of the ECHR which stipulates the right to a fair trial.”

More than 100,000 people died and some 2.2 million others were uprooted in the 1992-95 conflict that followed the break up of the former Yugoslavia in 1991.