Netherlands launches compensation procedure for families of Srebrenica victims


Women from the Mères de Srebrenica association before the court in The Hague in July 2014. Photo: EPA / BART MAAT.

The Dutch Compensation Commission in Potocari on Tuesday opened the doors of its Sarajevo office to potential compensation claimants and its website is also open to applications from relatives of people killed after being taken from the Dutch support base. of the UN peace in Potocari near Srebrenica in July 1995.

But some of the victims ‘relatives are refusing to seek compensation because they are not satisfied with the legal settlement imposed by a Dutch court, under which the Netherlands will not have to reimburse all the costs incurred by the families’ lawyers.

Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves association, which brought the case to the Dutch courts, declared that she would not seek compensation for the death of her son Nermin “as long as our demands do not will not be satisfied ”.

If that doesn’t happen within 15 days, Subasic said, “we will end our cooperation and go to court again.”

On July 11, 1995, when the Bosnian Serb army captured Srebrenica, Dutch soldiers responsible for security in the UN declared “safe zone” were unable to prevent the killing of over 7,000 men. and Bosnian boys.

In 2019, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the Netherlands was responsible, to a very limited extent, for the deaths of around 350 victims who were taken from the United Nations Dutch Battalion base in Potocari on July 13 after to have sought refuge there.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Dutch battalion acted illegally because it knew that men from Srebrenica were in serious danger of being attacked or killed. The ruling estimated that if they had been allowed to stay at the base, their chances of survival would have been ten percent.

According to the decision, the closest relatives of these 350 victims can now claim compensation from the Dutch state for ten percent of the damage they suffered.

The Hague Court of Appeal had previously ruled that the Dutch state was 30% responsible, and the Srebrenica Mothers have since taken the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The Mothers of Srebrenica hope the Strasbourg court will restore the liability level to 30%, although their lawyer Simon van der Sluijs has said he believes this is unlikely.

“I do not understand why the Netherlands does not want to close this chapter of Srebrenica in a pleasant way,” van der Sluijs told BIRN.

“They are carrying out this procedure and this payment only because of a court decision. No form of benevolence or compassion has ever been shown, ”he added.

Parents, spouses and siblings of victims are entitled to compensation. Widows or first-degree relatives of survivors can also make multiple claims – for example, if a woman has lost both her husband and her son.

Widows will receive 15,000 euros in compensation and other surviving parents will receive 10,000 euros.

But van der Sluijs argued that the money offered for legal fees was insufficient.

“They offer 200,000 euros in expenses, for all the surviving relatives. But that’s not enough to cover all the costs, ”he said.

A spokesperson for the ministry said the changes to the regulations made the offer more generous than before and exceeded the Dutch legal obligations.

The mother of a Srebrenica victim, Mirsada Malagic, told BIRN she intended to seek compensation.

“I don’t care how much. The bottom line is for the Dutch government to admit that it is responsible for what happened to my child, ”said Malagic, whose son Elvir was 22 when he was taken away by Bosnian Serb forces and killed.

“Srebrenica was a protected area. The eyes of the whole world were on us. The Netherlands should have protected us, but they betrayed us, ”she said.

A spokesperson for the Dutch Compensation Commission Potocari, the independent administrator of the Srebrenica settlement, said the process will be quick and easy.

“The Commission should inform [applicants] within three months of the request if approved. After signing the settlement agreement, the compensation amount will be transferred to the relative’s account in a few hours, ”he said.

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