2008-06-23

While you were away

Well, while I was away, actually. While I was moving to what I hope will become a reasonably permanent new home amongst the sushi bars of Muswell Hill, Owen (who will be known to readers of this site as a regular commenter) was keeping the world informed of the progress of the lawsuit by Hasan Nuhanović and members of the Mustafić family before a district court in the Netherlands.

The plaintiffs are suing the Dutch state for the failure of its military forces, which were present in the area as members of UNPROFOR, to protect their relatives during the Srebrenica genocide in 1995. Rizo Mustafić, Ibro Nuhanović, Nasiha Nuhanović and Muhamed Nuhanović sought protection at the UN military base in Potočari, but were soon afterward delivered to the Bosnian Serb forces by the members of the Dutch military who were bound to protect them. The lawsuit seeks to establish that the military forces are guilty of gross negligence of their duty to protect civilians, and that this was a result of state policy which placed emphasis on the safety of soldiers at the expense of the obligation to protect civilians.

If you care for 198 pages of pleading, you can dowload the writ of summons (translated into English) at the plaintiff's firm's web site. It is a PDF, and since they are lawyers they have a little shrinkwrap agreement for you to click before you can get to it. Or you can listen to an interview with the lead lawyer by CBC, followed by Ramush Thakur's comments on the responsibility to protect.

Paul Vallely sets out several of the issues in the case for The Independent. Plaintiff Nuhanović and his lawyer set out their case to Reuters in an interview. Attorney Liesbeth Zegveld (bio) gives the theory of the case with admirable succinctness to the BBC. Some unexpected uncertainty came about just as hearings were about to begin when the judge who had been overseeing the case since 2005 was removed from the case without explanation.

A decision is expected in September.

Errata: See the comments for an important correction.

1 comment:

Owen said...

Thanks for posting on the info, Eric. Just a quick correction - the writ of summons downloadable from Van Diepen Van Der Kroef is the writ for the Mothers of Srebrenica case, the one for Hasan Nuhanovic/the Mustafic family hasn't been translated from the Dutch. The Mothers' case is also different in that they're bringing their action against the UN as well as the Dutch (the UN are not appearing, claiming immunity). Nevertheless the writ of summons contains a lot of relevant material.

Otherwise I can only say I wish I was able to be as succinct as you.