More than 100 survivors of the Srebrenica genocide are in Strasbourg to file an appeal at the European Court of Human Rights against a verdict which freed Dutch UN peacekeepers of responsibility for failing to prevent the 1995 massacre.
The Srebrenica survivors are filing an appeal against a verdict by the Dutch Supreme Court in April this year which found that Dutch UN soldiers – who were stationed in Srebrenica in July 1995 – cannot be sued for allowing the massacre because the “UN enjoys immunity from prosecution”. One of the organizers of the appeal and the president of the “Mothers of Srebrenica” association, Hatidza Mehmedovic, told BIRN that justice will only prevail if the world admits that the Srebrenica genocide carries the “seal of the United Nations”. “We are praying that the European Court will accept our appeal and remove this immunity. It is shameful that some people are allowed to do what they want – to kill, expel and slaughter – and others just watch all this happening before their very eyes. I feel the UN is an accomplice in Srebrenica. They should have never allowed this to happen,” said Mehmedovic. She added that three buses, carrying more than 100 families of victims, have travelled to Strasbourg, France where they will lodge their appeal with the European Court of Human Rights. The appeal, she claims, will not bring back her two sons and husband, but will help teach the international community a lesson. “The UN should be ashamed it has come to this. We are victims, but we will remain dignified and hope for truth and justice. This concept of immunity is flawed because everyone should answer for their actions. What message is the UN giving to the world by claiming immunity? It is one of the reasons people are losing faith in the concept of international justice,” says Mehmedovic. The Supreme Court of the Netherlands found in April this year that the UN forces enjoy immunity from prosecution before domestic courts, which is derived from the international conventions which have formed this institution.
The court also concluded that the immunity of the UN is fundamental to enabling peacekeeping operations across the world. The families of victims and Srebrenica genocide survivors believe that the Dutch UN peacekeeping forces should have protected Bosniak civilians in the days after the attack of the Bosnian Serb forces on the UN designated safe haven and demilitarized zone of Srebrenica in July 1995. They feel that the peacekeepers are partly to blame for the subsequent deaths of more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys, which the International Court of Justice declared as genocide in 2007.