News archive 2013
Nuhanovic Foundation launches report on worldwide monetary compensation payments25 November 2013
This groundbreaking report on monetary payments for civilian harm in international and national practice maps payment schemes recently or currently operating in response to armed-conflict, violations of law and terrorist attacks. You can now read the whole report via our Reports page. The report was the result of a collaboration between the Amsterdam Law Clinic at the University of Amsterdam and the Centre for Civilians in Conflict in Washington DC. It was launched by Dr Frederiek de Vlaming, Director of the Nuhanovic Foundation, at the University of Amsterdam last month in the presence of Professor Liesbeth Zegveld, founder of the Nuhanovic Foundation, Sahr MuhammedAlly, Senior Legal & Amends Advisor at CIVIC, the students who had done the research and other distinguished academics and experts.
It is hoped that the report will enable evaluation of best practice in the area of reparations for civiliam harm and lead to the development of rules of due dilligence. Comparison and analysis of different practices should help to raise public expectations about the standard that should be met in responding to civilians who have been injured or whose family members have been killed in any of the above contexts.
UN Special Rapporteur warns that unaddressed human rights violations undermine sustainable development27 October 2013
Pablo de Greiff, UN Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparations and non-recurrence warns that “unaddressed human rights violations are spoilers of sustainable development,” and urged the UN and its Member States to incorporate goals on access to justice and remedy in the post-2015 development framework. See our Reports page for a links to a summary of his presentation speech and to the whole article.
Dutch State Responsible for Death of Three Muslim Men in Srebrenica5 September 2013
State responsible for death of three Muslim men in Srebrenica
The Hague, 6-9-2013
Text Press Release of the Dutch Supreme Court
The Dutch State is responsible for the death of three Muslim men from Srebrenica. This was the ruling given by the Dutch Supreme Court today. The men had sought refuge in the compound of the Dutch battalion (Dutchbat). Dutchbat decided not to evacuate them along with the battalion and instead sent them away from the compound on 13 July 1995. Outside the compound they were murdered by the Bosnian-Serb army or related paramilitary groups.
In two judgments the Supreme Court upheld earlier judgments of The Hague Court of Appeal of 2011 (ECLI:NL:GHSGR:2011:BR0132 and ECLI:NL:GHSGR:2011: BR0133) and 2012 (ECLI:NL:GHSGR:2012:BW9015 and ECLI:NL:GHSGR:2012: BW9014) and dismissed the State’s appeal in cassation against these judgments.
Both cases concern events that took place shortly after the fall of the Srebrenica enclave on 11 July 1995. Hasan Nuhanović was in the employment of the United Nations. He worked as an interpreter at the compound in Potočari where Dutchbat was stationed. He had a UN pass and was on the list of local personnel who could be evacuated with Dutchbat. His father Ibro, mother Nasiha and brother Muhamed had sought refuge in the compound after the fall of the enclave. They were not on the list of local personnel and were informed on 13 July 1995 that they had to leave the compound. Shortly afterwards they were murdered by the Bosnian-Serb army or related paramilitary groups. Hasan is the plaintiff in one of these cases (and the respondent in the cassation proceedings).
Rizo Mustafić was in the employment of the Srebrenica municipal authority and had been seconded by this authority to work for Dutchbat as an electrician at the compound. After the fall of the enclave Rizo, together with his wife and children, had sought refuge in the compound. The family was informed on 13 July 1995 that they had to leave the compound. Shortly afterwards Rizo was murdered by the Bosnian-Serb army or related paramilitary groups. His wife and children survived. They are the plaintiffs in the other case (and respondents in the cassation proceedings).
Two central questions
The proceedings before the Supreme Court turn on two questions:
1. Can Dutchbat’s actions be attributed to the State?
2. Were Dutchbat’s actions wrongful?
The Supreme Court has answered the question of whether Dutchbat’s conduct can be attributed to the State by reference to public international law. In doing so it has followed two sets of rules drawn up by the International Law Commission of the United Nations.
The Supreme Court has held that public international law allows conduct to be attributed not only to the United Nations, which was in charge of the peace mission, but also to the State because the latter had effective control over the disputed conduct of Dutchbat. The Court of Appeal was therefore entitled to hold that Dutchbat’s conduct is attributable to the State.
The Court of Appeal held that Dutchbat’s conduct was wrongful under the law of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is applicable in this case. This was challenged unsuccessfully in the cassation proceedings. The Supreme Court has added that judicial restraint in the review of Dutchbat’s conduct, as advocated by the State, would mean that there would be virtually no scope for the courts to assess the conduct of a troop contingent in the context of a peace mission. According to the Supreme Court, this is unacceptable. However, a court that assesses the conduct of a troop contingent in retrospect must make allowance for the fact the decisions in question were taken under great pressure in a war situation.
This is a press release issued following the judgments of the Supreme Court of 6 September 2013. The full texts of the judgments in English(12/03324 and 12/03329) on www.hogeraad.nl, ECLI:NL:HR:2013:BZ9225 and
UN Human Rights Committee's decision on Bosnian war victims21 June 2013
In a decision just made public, the HRC found BiH responsible for several violations of the ICCPR for its failure to properly investigate the disappearance of Fikret Prutina, Huso and Nedžad Zlatarac, Safet Kozica, and Salih Čekić and to bring their perpetrators to justice. In particular, it found that the relatives of the five men were further victimized because they were forced to have their loved ones declared dead in order to have access to social allowances, while their fate and whereabouts were in reality still unknown. Moreover, two of the victims’ relatives were minor when they witnessed the enforced disappearance of their fathers. BiH failed to adopt the special measures of protection required by their young age.
The HRC urged BiH to provide justice and redress to the victims of these crimes. In particular, it recommended BiH to strengthen the ongoing efforts to establish the fate and whereabouts of the five disappeared men and to bring their perpetrators to justice by the end of 2015, to abolish the obligation for family members to declare their missing relatives dead in order to benefit from social allowances, to grant an adequate compensation to the 12 relatives and to guarantee that investigations into allegations of enforced disappearances are accessible to the families of victims.
For more info see the website of TRIAL, the ngo who assisted the relatives:
Dutch Advocate-General dismisses Appeal by Dutch State in Srebrenica case11 June 2013
In his advisory opinion of 3 May 2013, the Advocate-General has advised the Supreme Court of The Hague to dismiss the appeal in cassation lodged by the State of the Netherlands in what has come to be known as the 'Srebrenica case'. The tentative date for the verdict is set for 6 September 2013.
The 'Srebrenica case' includes two cases initiated in 2002 by the surviving relatives of three Muslim men who were killed by Bosnian-Serbian troops under the command of Ratko Mladić. (See our Cases page under Cases before National Courts – The Netherlands) On 5 July 2011, the Appeals Court of The Hague determined that the State was liable for the death of these men. However the State of the Netherlands lodged an appeal in cassation against those verdicts. The dismissal of that appeal now opens the way for the surviving relatives, represented by Liesbeth Zegveld of Böhler Advocaten in Amsterdam, to see their right to compensation realised.
Croatia to claim refund from war criminal for reparations paid by the State22 May 2013
The Croatian prosecutor has announced that it will claim 491,000 kuna (about 65,000 euro) from former general Norac because the state had to pay that amount in compensation to three relatives of those killed in the military operation that led to Norac’s conviction in 2008.
But Norac’s lawyer Vlatko Nuic said that that his client wasn’t obliged to reimburse the money because “the state, not the soldier, is responsible for the damage caused by its soldier”, and vowed to prove it in court.
If the state succeeds in its unprecedented attempt to get a refund from Norac for the compensation it had to pay, it could begin a process which might see the refunding of compensation paid out in many other similar cases concerning convicted war criminals in Croatia.
Read the article here.
Rios Montt judges order reparations16 May 2013
Rios Montt judges order reparations.The full report on the reparations order by the Open Society Justice Initiative can be found at: http://www.riosmontt-trial.org/2013/05/court-orders-reparations-following-rios-montt-conviction-on-genocide-and-crimes-against-humanity-charges/
Pakistani drone victims seek compensation from their government8 May 2013
In May 9 2012 The Foundation for Fundamental Rights filed two separate constitutional petitions challenging the Government of Pakistan's failure to protect its citizens from US drone attacks. Both relate to a March 17 2012 strike on a North Waziristan jirga which killed 50 people. The Petitioners assert that at least 3000 people have been killed in over 320 CIA drone strikes in FATA, mostly in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA). Click here to read more about the initiative to sue Pakistan for its failure to protect its citizens. Here you can read more about the claim that is to be decided today, 9 May 2013.
Joint Statement by Palestinian and Israeli orgs on need for civil compensation for Palestinian civillians8 May 2013
Israel has the duty to investigate and prosecute alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed against Palestinian civilians and must provide equal and effective access to justice for victims. Furthermore, as the Occupying Power in occupied Palestine, Israel is liable to provide compensation to victims. Israel has failed to comply with these duties. Numerous legal, procedural, and practical obstacles in the Israeli civil and criminal legal system contribute to the systematic denial of the right of victims to effective judicial remedy. Israel's violation of Palestinian victims' right to effective remedies is of pressing concern. The signatories of the Joint Statement call on the international, Israeli and Palestinian legal communities to confront these challenges and to help remove the obstacles to justice and redress for Palestinian victims.
Click here to read about the joint statement.
Dutch court awards compensation23 April 2013
Dutch court awards compensation to 16 victims of Saddam Hussein's mustard gas attacks