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Dutch court rules in Srebrenica civil suit

  International  -   POSTED: 2008/07/10 09:10

A Dutch court ruled Thursday that it has no jurisdiction in a civil suit against the United Nations by survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia, affirming U.N. immunity from prosecution, even when genocide is involved.

A group called the Mothers of Srebrenica was seeking compensation for the failure of Dutch United Nations troops to prevent the slaughter by Serb forces of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim males in the U.N.-declared safe zone.

The Hague District Court said the U.N.'s immunity — which is written into its founding charter — means it cannot be held liable in any country's national court.

"The court's inquiry into a possible conflict between the absolute immunity valid in international law of the U.N. and other standards of international law does not lead to an exception to this immunity," the judges wrote in their ruling.

A ruling lifting the U.N.'s immunity could have had far-reaching implications for the way the world body carries out its peacekeeping operations around the world.

At a hearing last month, Dutch government lawyer Bert Jan Houtzagers said that if a Dutch court decided it had jurisdiction in the case, "any court in any country could do so and that would thwart the viability of the United Nations."

Axel Hagedorn, a lawyer for the victims, said he would appeal Thursday's decision. The case could go to the European Court of Human Rights.


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