A Dutch court has ruled that the Netherlands was responsible for the deaths of more than 300 Bosniaks from Srebrenica in 1995 because its peacekeeping troops failed to protect them, balkaninsight.com reports.
The district court in The Hague ruled in a landmark verdict on Wednesday that Dutch peacekeepers had failed to protect the Bosniaks after Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.
After Srebrenica was overrun by the Serb army, many Bosniak men and boys tried to escape through the woods while others headed for the nearby UN peacekeepers’ base at Potocari, where the Dutch battalion (known as ‘Dutchbat’) was stationed.
Several hundred men managed to get inside the Potocari base, but were told by the Dutch troops that they would be safe outside and handed over to the Serbs, who later killed them.
“The state is liable for the loss suffered by relatives of the men who were deported by the Bosnian Serbs from the Dutchbat compound in Potocari in the afternoon of 13 July, 1995,” the court in The Hague ruled.
The Dutch peacekeepers, who were stationed in Srebrenica after it was declared a ‘safe area’ by the UN in 1993, had an obligation to protect the civilian population. The relatives’ lawsuit charged them with failing to do so.
More than 7,000 Bosniaks from Srebrenica were killed in total, in the worst massacres in Europe since World War II.