Serbia has been acquitted of committing genocide by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) but it violated its obligation to prevent the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. It also flouted the genocide convention by failing to arrest Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military commander, even though he was hiding in the country.
In the first case of its kind, Bosnia had asked the ICJ to rule on whether the Serbian nation had committed genocide during the war of 1992-95, which left about 100,000 dead. The binding ruling that Serbia was not guilty of genocide, or of conspiracy to commit genocide.
Reading the landmark ruling, Judge Higgins said: “The acts committed at Srebrenica . . . were committed with the specific intent to destroy in part the group of the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina as such, and accordingly. . . these were acts of genocide committed by Bosnian Serb forces. The court has found that [Serbia] could, and should, have acted to prevent the genocide, but did not…. It has not been established that these massacres were committed under the instructions or the direction of the organs of the respondent state [Serbia] nor that the respondent exercised effective control over the operations.” Rejecting Bosnia’s claim for monetary reparations, it added: “Financial compensation is not the appropriate form of reparation for the breach of the obligation to prevent genocide.”
Boris Tadic, the Serbian President, said: “It is important that the Serbian Parliament, as soon as possible, passes a declaration condemning the crime in Srebrenica without any doubt.” He added that Serbia must improve its cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which is still seeking six Serbs indicted for war crimes, including Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb wartime leader. “If Serbia fails to complete that cooperation . . . I believe we will face dramatic political and economic consequences,” he cautioned. Talks on Serbia joining the EU are suspended over the issue
As far as I am concerned the first thing Serbia should do is not to pass a declaration condemning Srebrenica but to hand over Mladic et al for trial forthwith.