Srebrenica: What a parliamentary inquiry must answer
The Parliamentary commission of inquiry must answer the following questions in particular.
- Did France know that the Bosnian Serb army was preparing to attack Srebrenica? If so, why was this information not passed on to the United Nations, so that the protection or evacuation of the inhabitants of Srebrenica could be assured?
While there is a great deal of debate concerning the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing a joint strategy of ground deployment and air support, it is important that Members of Parliament succeed in uncovering the problems that physically led to this human tragedy.
- Why did General Janvier not authorize NATO air strikes against Srebrenica, in July 1995, even though:
- there was no legal impediment to the use of force?
- the Dutch battalion present on the ground in Srebrenica had asked for such air strikes on several occasions, fully prepared to assume the personal risks to themselves that such action implied?
- that air strikes had been launched on several occasions in 1994 in order to defend the security zones at Goradze (April 10 and 11, 1994) and Bihac (November 21 and 23, 1994), despite the fact that the chain of command was far more complex than that which was in place at the time of the Srebrenica attack. At the time of the attack on Srebrenica, General Janvier had in fact had personal authority to authorize the use of air power since July 9.
- Did France attempt, independently of the United Nations chain of command, to delay and minimize NATO air strikes during the Serb attack on Srebrenica? If so, did it do so together with the other members of the "Contact Group" (USA, Russia, Britain and Germany)?
- In June 1995, did France, independently of the United Nations, strike an unauthorized deal for the liberation of UN peacekeeping troops, in return for a definitive halt to the air strikes? If so, did this deal also involve the other members of the "Contact Group"?
- What guarantees were negotiated, at each stage, and in each case, to ensure the protection or evacuation, under conditions of full security, of the inhabitants of the protected enclave of Srebrenica?
In order to guarantee the transparency of this parliamentary investigation, MSF urges that the Commission of Inquiry:
- be larger, politically more diverse, and composed of Members of Parliament who express the wish to participate.
- be given unconditional access to all documents essential to its work, including any documents deemed secret on the grounds of national defense or foreign affairs;
- hold public hearings involving all actors and witnesses who may be needed in order to establish exactly what role was played by France's political and military leaders.
- confine the use of in camera proceedings to exceptional cases, and state clearly why such proceedings are necessary.
- publish accounts of all its proceedings and its working documents.