Closing remarks by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the conference ‘Obtaining Justice and Reparations for Survivors of Genocide’
The conference ‘Obtaining Justice and Reparations for Survivors of Genocide’ was held in The Hague on 13 May 2022. The conference was organised by the French embassy in the Netherlands.
Ms Murad, you once said: ‘When genocide is committed, it must be seen. People must look at it with open eyes, not minimise its impact.’
This is so true, because holding regimes or individuals accountable for acts of genocide is often a difficult and painstaking process.
It demands constant attention, lots of patience and even more perseverance.
During that process, it’s crucial to keep pushing forward by telling the stories of the victims, over and over again.
Because visibility – knowing what happened and telling the world – is key to accountability and justice.
This is true for the Yezidi people, who suffered terribly at the hands of ISIS.
Your sisters and brothers, Ms Murad, who have been given a powerful voice through your words and actions.
Sending out the message that justice must include the healing of the psychological and emotional scars caused by sexual violence.
It is true for the Rohingya community in Myanmar, who were driven from their homes, raped or murdered in the devastating and violent campaign orchestrated by the Myanmar military in the summer of 2017.
And as we speak, it is true for the people of Ukraine.
There are more and more indications that Russian troops are using sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Violence aimed not at military targets, but at innocent civilians, mostly girls and women.
There are also indications of deportation, torture and cold blooded executions.
So the discussions you’ve had this afternoon are both necessary and highly topical.
And I thank you, Ambassador Vassy, and the French government for organising and hosting this event.
The bottom line, of course, is that humanity has to triumph.
We have to make the wheels of justice turn.
We have to show what justice can do.
As a warning to perpetrators and potential perpetrators.
But also to give a voice to the victims and recognise their suffering.
We all agree on this.
We all say it.
And yet we all know that saying it is easy and doing it is hard.
The long road to justice begins with knowing the truth.
And the truth can be established only through independent fact-finding and evidence-gathering on the ground.
I want to express my deepest respect for all the organisations and brave people who take on that task, despite the many dangers, and despite the great personal risks involved.
And I believe that governments also have a role to play.
That’s why the Netherlands is sending a team of experts to Ukraine to investigate possible war crimes.
It’s essential that we, members of the EU and the international community as a whole, stand shoulder to shoulder in this regard.
From day one.
As we are doing in the case of Ukraine.
Firmly, without hesitation and leaving no room for doubt.
Because here in The Hague, legal capital of the world, we have seen how hard it can be to get all the evidence presented at trial and ensure that justice is done.
It takes resolve.
In fact, it takes enduring resolve.
So constant attention and ongoing action are needed.
We owe it to the victims of genocide.
We owe it to those who live in fear of persecution today.
We owe it to the future of humanity.
So thank you for your contribution to this important event.
Thank you for your countless endeavours in the fight against acts of genocide.
And let me assure you that the Netherlands always has been and always will be at the vanguard on the road to justice.