Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

Dutch parliament passes genocide bill

The Netherlands earlier this week passed a bill that allowed them to extend the possibly of detecting and prosecuting genocide suspects.

The bill, which now needs to be approved by the Senate, allows prosecutors to consider cases of genocide further retrospectively than currently allowed and also permits greater co-operation with international courts.

Currently, only genocide cases with crimes committed after the 1st of October 2003 can be considered before Dutch courts, a loop hole that has allegedly allowed many suspected war criminals to flee to the country.

The new bill though allows cases as far back as the 18th of September 1966, when the Genocide Convention Implementation Act in the Netherlands came into force, to be prosecuted for.

Former Minister for Justice, Ernst Hirsch Ballin, who proposed the bill said,

"It is unacceptable that an alien who is otherwise guilty of genocide is immune from prosecution, because the Netherlands, before the time of the crime, had no jurisdiction. This sends an undesirable signal to victims and their families."

The move has been welcomed by many groups, including those seeking justice for victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and have urged other European countries to emulate the bill.

The head of the Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unity, Jean Bosco Siboyintore said,

"We have so far identified more than 30 Rwandan Genocide suspects living in the Netherlands, we are in touch with our Dutch counterparts and once this bill becomes law, these fugitives will be prosecuted with the deserved crime they are suspected to have committed in 1994."

At the moment, those looking to prosecute alleged genocide suspects have to seek alternate charges of war crimes or torture, as was the case with Rwandan suspect Joseph Mpambara who was sentenced by a Dutch district court to life imprisonment in July for war crimes during the genocide.

The bill also opens up greater co-operation with international criminal tribunals, allowing Dutch courts to take over and continue prosecuting alleged war criminals. This means that the burden will be reduced at major international tribunals, who tend to target only the major suspects at large.

If the bill sees full implementation, criminals can now be transferred over to Dutch authorities to stand trial.

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.