11/30/2020 10:47 AM
Dear Minister Grapperhaus and members of the Committee of Justice and Security,
As therapists in the mental health care sector, it is with great relief that we have learned that the motion for an independent investigation into sadistic and ritual abuse has been unanimously adopted by the Lower House. The word independent is essential in this context. In 'Reply to oral questions in the Victims' Consultation Memorandum, 28 October 2020', Minister Grapperhaus writes the following: 'In line with the motion (...) I have now requested the WODC to conduct an independent investigation into the nature and extent of organized sadistic abuse of children.' This first step taken by the minister gives us great concern about the independence of the research. We would like to explain this below.
As we informed you earlier, this theme is close to our hearts. We have had direct, intervisional or indirect contact with one or more clients who told us about horrible forms of sadistic abuse in an organized, ritualistic context. In these cases we detected a great fear to speak about it. However, Sanne Terlingen and Huub Jaspers (Argos, June 27th) conducted research on organized abuse and received a completed questionnaire from no less than 200 respondents, 140 of whom testified to ritual sadistic abuse. We are convinced that the 'secret' of this large response lies in the fact that both investigative journalists knew how to create trust with the victims that anonymity was guaranteed and that there was no link whatsoever between the investigative journalists and the judiciary, police or LEBZ. And that participation in the investigation could in time really contribute to recognition of the reality of this horrible abuse and help for victims. On the other hand the fact that in the past 7 years only 3 reports of ritual abuse have been made. The cause of this very low number, which is in stark contrast to the response Argos received, is the distrust victims have of the police, justice system and LEBZ. For backgrounds of this distrust, we refer you to the letter the Knowledge Centre Transgenerational Violence (KTG) wrote on this subject earlier and to the recent article on this subject in the Dutch newspaper of 27 November (see attachment). Member of Parliament Van den Berge very rightly included the following phrase in the opening words of the motion that was unanimously adopted: 'whereas there are people who claim to be "survivors of ritual sexual abuse" and that these people do not feel taken seriously by the government, police and judiciary'..
In summary, if maximum effort is not put into a committee that has broad-based confidence of the victims this investigation is a waste of time, money and manpower. Complete independence of the judiciary/police on the one hand and trust on the other are the key words. This is what makes or breaks the whole investigation.
This means that the Minister of Justice and Security is faced with the special task of commissioning an independent investigation in which his own department, the judiciary and organizations affiliated with the judiciary may not have any influence. This is the first reason why the WODC, which after all directly falls under the Ministry of Justice and Security, is absolutely unsuitable for a role - whatever that may be - in the realisation of an independent investigation. After all, some victims have experienced that earlier reports were leaked to their perpetrators of violence or got stuck for strange reasons. Others are convinced that they have met certain high-ranking figures, including police and judicial officials, as perpetrators in the context of sexual or ritual abuse. This makes talking to a committee that has lines of communication with the Justice Department, even if it is through them, an unfeasible option for them. And yet these victims should also be heard. Some of us know several victims who have important information about ritual abuse, who will certainly not participate under these conditions. Something you do not want either. A second reason why the WODC is not suitable for this task, is because of the WODC affair that is still fresh in our minds. It has emerged that policy officials have influenced the outcomes of research in recent years, as journalist Bas Haan demonstrated and as confirmed by research committees. This is exactly what is feared in this research.
It is therefore crucial that the investigation be placed in the hands of a committee that has the confidence of the victims. Every effort must be made to convince them that the information they provide cannot in any way be leaked to the courts or police through committee members. After all, the victims who fear this most may be precisely those who know the most. It is not the intention that the new Committee should remain stuck on the same point ('we don't know') as it was at the time of the Hulsenbek Committee in 1994.
In forming a committee that has the confidence of victims, we therefore see an important directive role for the Transgenerational Organised Violence Knowledge Centre. They already have the confidence of victims and, if the financial means are made available, they can choose a research bureau, for example the Verweij Jonker Institute. In this way, the necessary independence from government, the judiciary and the police is best guaranteed. Moreover, it is essential, as Mr. Michiel Van Nispen, member of the SP Party stated earlier, that victims 'form a sounding board when choosing committee members, so that the people who are the subject of rumours do not appear on such a committee' (Nederlands Dagblad, 3 October 2009). This can be done by presenting the entire committee to victims, including the guarantee of safety and transparency, and first only doing a check (through Argos) to see if they dare talk in that setting. It is also important that committee members sign an integrity statement, that they will not give in to possible attempts at influencing/chanting from outside and will not leak information about the results of the investigation.
In short, we urge you as Minister of Security and Justice and you as representatives of the people, to make a real independent research. An investigation in which maximum effort is made to give all victims of organized sadistic (pedo) sexual and ritual violence the confidence that it is safe to speak.
Naturally, I am prepared to provide further clarification,
A.S. Terpstra-van Hijum (contact person)
Ms. J. (Janneke) Boogaard-Blom,
Mrs A.F. Denekamp-van Toor
Occupational therapist - BCZ registered therapist
Mr. Dr. R. Filius,
Ms C. Hamoen,
Mrs. M. van Houten, M.Sc.
Ms. dr. C. Linker,
Ms H. Mateboer-Selles
Ms. D. Mazzolari,
Mrs. T.A. van Neerbos,
(child and adolescent) psychiatrist BIG
Mr. Msc. J. Sarmiento
Mrs. M. Wielart
Psychologist in formation to psychotherapist