The Netherlands Responsible for Death of Three Muslim Men in Srebrenica
The Supreme Court of the Netherlands found on 6 September 2013 that the Dutch State is responsible for the death of three Muslim men from Srebrenica who sought refuge in the compound of the Dutch battalion (Dutchbat) in July 1995. The Dutchbat refused to evacuate them and sent them away from the compound. Shortly thereafter, the men were murdered by the Bosnian-Serb army or related paramilitary groups.
The Supreme Court was faced with two questions:
1. Can the actions of Dutchbat be attributed to the State?; and
2. Were Dutchbat’s actions wrongful?
In answering the first question, “[t]he 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.” (Supreme Court Press Release, 6 September 2013)
Turning to the second question, the Supreme Court opined that “[t]he Court of Appeal held that Dutchbat’s conduct was wrongful under the law of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is applicable in this case. This was challenged unsuccessfully in the cassation proceedings. The Supreme Court has added that judicial restraint in the review of Dutchbat’s conduct, as advocated by the State, would mean that there would be virtually no scope for the courts to assess the conduct of a troop contingent in the context of a peace mission. According to the Supreme Court, this is unacceptable. However, a court that assesses the conduct of a troop contingent in retrospect must make allowance for the fact the decisions in question were taken under great pressure in a war situation.” (Supreme Court Press Release, 6 September 2013)
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