19 July 2019

Supreme Court confirms Dutch State liability in Mothers of Srebrenica ruling

The Supreme Court announced its final ruling in one of De Brauw's ongoing pro bono matters: the Mothers of Srebrenica versus the Dutch State.

This landmark ruling confirms the decision of The Hague Court of Appeal that the Dutch State is liable for the losses suffered by the relatives of the 350 Muslim men that were forced to leave the compound of Dutchbat on 13 July 1995. However, the Supreme Court limited the State’s liability to 10%.

Both the Dutch State and the Mothers of Srebrenica had appealed this decision, arguing the extent to which the Dutch State had control over the situation and thus was responsible for protecting the Muslim men from being murdered by the Bosnian Serbs, with the consequence of holding the State liable for either more or fewer deaths.

The chapter now closes on the battle we started out on together with the Mothers of Srebrenica in 2017 to defend the Court of Appeal's decision to keep the Dutch State accountable for Dutchbat's actions.

Johan Valk was involved from an early stage and reflects on this ruling: "This matter was extremely complex and inherently emotional. At the same time, chances of survival in different scenarios were boiled down to percentages. The experience and expertise of our firm have been key to be able to navigate this playing field in front of the Supreme Court. Being able to give access to that level of the justice system is a responsibility we need to take seriously as a firm, and I think we do. I am grateful that we were able to help give these brave women a voice and the possibility to confront the Dutch State with its actions. We are glad that the Court of Appeal's decision to hold the Dutch State responsible still stands, even though we aimed to extend the State's responsibility much further than ten percent. I sincerely hope the Mothers of Srebrenica will now find a sense of closure."

The De Brauw team working on this matter consisted of: Jan de Bie Leuveling Tjeenk, Maarten Schenck, Johan Valk and Christiaan Russcher.