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First Civil Action Against the Dutch State by Srebrenica Genocide Victims on June 16, 2008

June 10, 2008

Owen left an important comment on my Srebrenica: Hasko’s Story post.  Hasko (Hasan) is a friend of mine from before the war in Bosnia started.   Additionally, Hasan has published a book titled: Under the UN Flag: The International Community and the Srebrenica Genocide – I would imagine that it is good reading for anyone that is going to follow the case – you can read about it here.

Anyone that needs the press release below can email me – my email is listed on the sidebar and I’ll forward the request to Owen.

I found your post about Hasan and thought you might be interested to know that his court case against the Dutch State for their failure to protect his parents and brother is being heard in the District Court of The Hague on 16 June 2008, along with the action concerning Rizo Mustafic brought by his widow, son and daughter. I hope you don’t mind me posting the press release below. If you know of anyone who might publicise this I have English, Bosnian, French and German versions of it.

Thanks for publishing his story on the blog.


Amsterdam, 1 June 2008:
Civil action due to be heard at 10 a.m. on 16 June 2008 in the District Court at The Hague (Prins Clauslaan 60, The Hague, Netherlands).

On 16 June 2008 the District Court at The Hague will hear the first civil action brought against the Dutch State by relatives of the victims of genocide at Srebrenica. Hasan Nuhanovic and the family of Rizo Mustafic are seeking to establish that the Dutch state is responsible for the failure of Dutch troops acting under a United Nations mandate to protect their family members massacred at Srebrenica in July 1995.

Hasan Nuhanovic, a U.N. interpreter who lost his father, mother and younger brother, and the family of Rizo Mustafic, an electrician employed by the Dutch battalion of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), claim that the Dutch government failed to protect the lives of their relatives after the safe area established by U.N. Security Council Resolution around the town of Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia was allowed to fall into the hands of the Bosnian Serb Army.

The Nuhanovic and Mustafic families were among thousands of refugees who sought protection inside the compound of the U.N. base at Potocari but were then delivered by the Dutch UNPROFOR forces into the hands of Serb General Ratko Mladic. Dutch soldiers in U.N. blue helmets are alleged to have watched on as women and young girls were taken away and raped and men and boys separated before being taken away for summary execution.

In a tort action against the Dutch state in which much of the legal debate revolves around the division of responsibility between the United Nations and national states, the plaintiffs’ lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld will argue that the Dutch government and the Dutch command within UNPROFOR were responsible for the gross negligence shown by Dutch troops, were primarily concerned for the safety of their national contingent and showed scant regard for the safety of the civilian population entrusted to their care.

The families are concerned above all to establish the truth about why Ibro, Nasiha and Muhamed Nuhanovic and Rizo Mustafic were allowed to go to their deaths in brutal circumstances when the United Nations had promised to ensure their safety.


Contact person:
Prof. Dr Liesbeth Zegveld, Böhler Franken Koppe Wijngaarden (BFKW) , Attorneys, Keizersgracht 560-562, Amsterdam 1017 EM, Tel.: +31 20 – 344 62 00, Fax: +31 20 – 344 62 01, e-mail:

Prof. Dr. Liesbeth Zegveld studied law at Utrecht. She obtained her doctorate with distinction in 2000 and was sworn in as an attorney in Amsterdam the same year. In 2005 she became a partner at Böhler Franken Koppe Wijngaarden, where she is a member of the international law & human rights department. She has written many articles on issues in the field of international humanitarian law. She is a guest lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and a member of the International Law Association’s Committee for Compensation for War Victims. In September 2006 she was appointed professor of International Humanitarian Law, in particular the Rights of Women and Children, at Leiden University.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Owen permalink*
    June 11, 2008 7:44 am

    Samaha, thanks very much for posting that. I think you know how much the court action means for Hasan as the culmination of his long campaign to achieve truth and justic for his family and the other victims of Srebrenica.

    But on top of that it may also clarify is also quite relevant to the issue of whether there is any real force behind the words in Article 1 of the Genocide Convention.

    “Article I: The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.”

  2. June 11, 2008 5:33 pm

    Of course the case is important to the relevance of that article of the genocide convention but I think it goes beyond that by demanding accountability on the parts of members of the UN.

    The UN is a broken system of inaction and blockades. Once these member states start having to be accountable for their actions or inactions – I have hope that the UN can be salvaged and become a functioning peacekeeping force.

  3. Owen permalink*
    June 12, 2008 10:07 am

    You’re right, Samaha. A lot of the argument in the Nuhanovic and Mustafic cases will deal with the point at which the United Nations itself is responsible for the actions of states on its behalf. In the case being brought by Mothers of Srebenica two days later the United Nations is a (non-)respondent alongside the Dutch state. The United Nations will not be appearing, as it claims immunity. The Mothers’ case is just as important in its way as Hasan’s, testing the issue of whether the UN can continue to claim immunity under all circumstances as necessary for the discharge of its responsibilities.

  4. June 14, 2008 5:47 pm

    I hope the Greeks who participated in the massacre are brought to justice as well.

    Never forget Greek complicity in Srebrenica. The next time a Greek complains about the Pontic Greek genocide, they should STFU and clean up their own backyard before whining about a genocide from the early 20th century.

  5. June 14, 2008 11:45 pm


    One genocide doesn’t negate another. They are all reprehensible crimes against humanity (i.e. crimes against humanity not just individual nations).

    btw, Danial, you distinguished “the Greeks who participated in the massacre” at first, but then you seem to refer to Greeks in general when you say “The next time a Greek complains…”

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