European court confirms UN immunity over Srebrenica massacre

European court confirms UN immunity over Srebrenica massacre

STRASBOURG, France - Agence France-Presse
European court confirms UN immunity over Srebrenica massacre

A Bosnian woman mourns during a mass burial of 775 newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre at the Potocari memorial cemetery near Srebrenica on July 11, 2010. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF

The European rights court on Thursday rejected a request by survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia to overturn a Dutch court ruling that confirmed the United Nations' immunity from prosecution over the killings.

The "Mothers of Srebrenica", made up of some 6,000 survivors and relatives of the 8,000 men and boys killed in the massacre of Muslims by Bosnian Serb forces, has for years been seeking a trial of the UN and the Dutch state over the alleged failure of peacekeeping troops to protect the enclave.

The group had turned to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after the Dutch Supreme Court rejected the suit last year.

But in a unanimous ruling released Thursday, ECHR judges said their appeal was inadmissible because "the granting of immunity to the UN served a legitimate purpose".

The court said giving national courts jurisdiction over UN operations would allow states "to interfere with the key mission of the UN to secure international peace and security".

The Strasbourg court's decision is final.

Srebrenica was a UN-protected Muslim enclave until July 11, 1995, when it was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces who loaded thousands of men and boys onto trucks, executed them and threw their bodies into mass graves.

The Serbs brushed aside lightly armed Dutch UN peacekeepers in the "safe area" where thousands of Muslims from surrounding villages had gathered for protection.

The massacre, which has been judged an act of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, was Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.