THE HAGUE - Survivors of the Srebrenica massacre have protested the Dutch Supreme Court's decision not to prosecute the United Nations for failing to prevent genocide against 8000 Bosnian Muslims near the end of Bosnia's war in 1995.
"The UN, as the international human rights champion, should not stand above the law but should take responsibility for its role in the Srebrenica genocide in 1995," a statement issued by a group of 6,000 survivors calling themselves the Mothers of Srebrenica said, Reuters reported on Friday, April 13.
"This is a violation of fundamental human rights and in contravention of the case law of the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ)."
Srebrenica was a UN-protected Muslim enclave until July 11, 1995, when it was overrun by Serb forces.
More than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and buried in mass graves.
The Srebrenica massacre has been termed genocide by the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal.
The Netherlands has said its troops were abandoned by the UN, which gave them no air support.
Last year, a Dutch appeals court found the Dutch state responsible for the deaths of three victims, opening the way for compensation claims over the failed peacekeeping mission.
The angry statement followed a ruling by the court, located in The Hague, on Friday which was the last legal option in the Netherlands for a group of survivors of the July 1995 massacre.
"The Supreme Court upholds the opinion of the (lower) court that the UN has the most far-reaching form of immunity and cannot be prosecuted by any national court," a summary of the ruling said.
"The Mothers of Srebrenica wanted the court to rule that the UN was negligent in the prevention of genocide - the most serious violation of human rights," the court statement said, therefore waiving the world body's immunity in favor of human rights laws.
Their bid had already been turned down in 2008 and on appeal in 2010 by lower courts before lawyers finally took it to the Supreme Court - which also ruled the UN's immunity "is absolute."
"It is directly related to its role in maintaining peace and security in the world and therefore it is important its immunity remains as strong as possible," the Supreme Court said.
Protesting the UN immunity, legal representatives of Srebrenica victims were ready to take the case against the UN to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
"We will argue that the Dutch soldiers and the United nations violated human rights," Axel Hagedorn, an attorney at the Van Diepen Van der Kroef law firm representing families of the victims, told Reuters.
Hagedorn added that granting immunity to the UN was disappointing to the genocide survivors and families of the victims.
"Granting legal immunity to a group claiming to defend human rights is like turning things upside down," he added.
Bosnia fell into civil war in 1992 that left 200,000 people dead and displaced millions as Serb forces launched ethnic cleansing campaign against Bosnian Muslims.
During the 43-month war, which claimed some 200,000 lives, nearly two million people fled their homes, half a million of them are still listed as refugees.
Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic, the two people considered most responsible for the massacre, are both facing trial for genocide before the UN war crimes court in The Hague over Srebrenica.
The other main protagonists of the war have all died or have been convicted of war crimes.