On 27 June 2017 the Hague Appeals Court upheld an earlier decision that the Netherlands was partly liable for the deaths in 1995 of some 300 Muslim males who were expelled from a Dutch UN base after the surrounding area was overrun by Bosnian Serb troops.
The court said that Dutch peacekeepers should have known that the men seeking refuge at the base near Srebrenica would be murdered by Bosnian Serb troops when they were forced to leave.
The Dutch government resigned in 2002 after acknowledging its failure to protect the refugees, but it said then that the peacekeepers had been on ‘mission impossible’. Defense ministry spokesman Klaas Meijer said “Our position has been, and will remain, that the Bosnian Serbs are responsible for this tragedy.”
In a message on the tenth anniversary commemoration of the massacre, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, while expressing the same sentiment as the Dutch government that the Serbs were to blame, he said the UN “had made serious errors of judgement, rooted in a philosophy of impartiality”, and said Srebrenica was a tragedy that would haunt the history of the UN forever.
About the Massacre
More than 8,000 Muslims, mostly men and boys, were killed by Bosnian Serb troops under the command of former General Ratko Mladic at Srebrenica in July 1995, the worst mass killing on European soil since World War Two.
Many of the Muslim victims had fled to the UN-declared “safe zone” in Srebrenica only to find the outnumbered and lightly-armed Dutch troops there unable to defend them. They then headed to the nearby Dutch base.
Mladic has been on trial for genocide before a UN war crimes tribunal since 2011. A verdict expected later this year.