THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The Dutch Supreme Court rejected Friday an attempt by relatives of Bosnian Muslim men murdered by Serb forces in 1995 to sue the United Nations for failing to protect them during Europe's worst massacre since World War II.
The Netherlands' highest court ruled that the United Nations has immunity from prosecution, ending moves by a group called the Mothers of Srebrenica to hold the world body responsible in Dutch courts.
Some 8,000 men were murdered in July 1995 by Serb forces who overran the U.N.-protected Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica. Most were slain in summary executions and their bodies plowed into mass graves. International courts have ruled the massacre amounted to genocide.
Dutch troops stationed in Srebrenica as U.N. peacekeepers were undermanned and outgunned, and failed to intervene.
Lawyers for the 6,000 relatives said they will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights. They argued that the ruling means the U.N. "enjoys absolute power."
"That is unacceptable from a political, humane and legal perspective," the lawyers said in a statement.
The Supreme Court upheld rulings from 2008 and 2010 by lower courts that affirmed U.N. immunity from prosecution enshrined in international conventions that established the world body, and said the legal protection is an essential foundation of its peacekeeping operations around the world.
"The Supreme Court supports the appeal court ruling that there is the most far-reaching immunity and that the U.N. can therefore not be summoned before any national court," according to a written summary of Friday's ruling.
Last year, in a separate case, a court in The Hague ruled that the Dutch state was liable for the death of three Muslim men killed in Srebrenica and ordered the government to compensate their relatives.