Nuhanović v. The State of the Netherlands

On 10 September 2008, the Distict Court of The Hague denied the claim brought by a former UN interpreter and family of one of the victims against the State of the Netherlands. The claimants had sought to hold the Dutch State liable for its role in failing to prevent the massacre in and around Srebrenica in July 1995, in which up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed. The Court held that the Dutch Government could not be held responsible because the peacekeepers were operating in Bosnia under a United Nations mandate.

The case was filed by Hasan Nuhanović and by the family of Rizo Mustafić. Rizo Mustafić and the parents and brother of Nuhanović were among those who lost their lives in the Srebrenica massacre. The lawyers for Nuhanović and the Mustafić family claimed, inter alia, that the Dutch State committed war crimes, was involved in genocide and violated fundamental human rights by handing their family members over to the (Bosnian-Serb) enemy.

Defence counsel for the Dutch government pleaded that the UN—and not the Netherlands—was in ‘operational command' of the Dutch UN battalion defending Srebrenica. In its decision, the Court determined that ‘operational command and control’ over the Dutchbat troops had been transferred to the UN and that the claimants had not submitted anything pointing to restrictions on this transfer of command.

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