Srebrenica: Military Chamber of Arnhem Court upholds prosecutor’s decision not to investigate the role of Dutch commanders

Cedric Ryngaert, Benjamin Thompson

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Abstract

On 29 April 2015, the Military Chamber of the Court of Arnhem-Leeuwarden dismissed a complaint, filed by relatives of victims (Mustafić, Nuhanović) of the Srebrenica massacre, against the Dutch public prosecutor’s decision not to investigate the Dutch military commanders (2013) for murder, war crimes and genocide. The (three) commanders of a Dutch battalion (Dutchbat), deployed under UN auspices in the Srebrenica area, had, according to the plaintiffs, expelled the victims from the Dutchbat compound knowing that they would in all likelihood be killed by Bosnian Serb militia under the command of Ratko Mladic. This post will endeavor to illustrate that, in reviewing the prosecutor’s decision to dismiss, the Court whilst appearing to reach its decision through the application of different law, actually based its jurisprudence on a de novo understanding of the facts compared to the earlier civil cases regarding for the same facts in relation to international civil law (State responsibility). It is recalled that, in the proceedings against the State, the Court of Appeal of The Hague held the Netherlands liable in tort for (the commanders) sending the victims off the compound on the ground that, in so doing, the State exposed them to a real and foreseeable risk of being killed or mistreated (Mustafić and Nuhanović 2011). This judgment was confirmed by the Supreme Court (Mustafić and Nuhanović 2013). In the Arnhem Court case, however, it was ruled that, in respect of those same facts, there was no basis for a criminal investigation because the establishment of individual criminal liability differs fundamentally from the establishment of the State’s civil liability (para. 12.4).
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUtrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

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