Srebrenica ruling: the Netherlands also to blame

A Dutch appeals court has confirmed a 2014 ruling on the Srebrenica massacre according to which the Netherlands was partially responsible for the deaths of around 350 Muslims in the Bosnian town in July 1995. The Dutch UN battalion Dutchbat should have done more to protect the refugees and so the families of the victims must receive compensation, the court ruled. The ruling leaves many questions unanswered, commentators point out.

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Generous compensation is an obligation

It's time for the Dutch state to act, NRC Handelsblad urges after the ruling:

“This pitiful conflict over the question of guilt and compensation has dragged on in an endless series of trials. ... Now there has been a decision on damages [based on the assumption that the Dutch state is 30 percent liable]. How the court calculated this percentage is unclear. It could have taken a better approach: after all, this isn't about the value of a used car after an accident. For the next of kin this chapter will never be closed, even if they were given 100-percent compensation. Of course: the perpetrators did the deed. But the Dutch state is also to blame. For that reason it behoves it to acknowledge its guilt and pay generous compensation.”

Večer (SI) /

The wrong people are on the dock

The relatives of around 6,000 victims, the "Mothers of Srebrenica", have filed their claim to the wrong address, Večer comments:

“The survivors should have filed their claim against the United Nations rather than the Netherlands - it set up safe zones and gave people a false sense of security. At the same time it did nothing to properly protect these zones. The global organisation, which back then was led by Boutros Boutros-Ghali, did everything it could to stay out of the fray. The decisive act by the United Nations was to impose an embargo on sales of weapons to all conflicting parties - thus depriving the Bosniaks of their right to defence.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Have we learned anything?

The judgement will have an impact on United Nations operations today and tomorrow, the Frankfurter Rundschau hopes:

“Because the ruling of liability entails the obligation to act more responsibly, which is imperative in view of the many scandals involving UN soldiers across the globe. The ruling on liability for the massacre in Srebrenica doesn't, however, really touch on the key political question. Because what is really truly incomprehensible is why the UN, the European Community and Nato didn't prevent what happened in July 1995 after the fall of Srebrenica: the orchestrated mass murder of people with Muslim names by Bosnian-Serb units and guerrillas.”