Lower House rejects motion for independent investigation with fallacy

8 December 2021

In a roll-call vote (23 in favour, 104 against, 23 abstentions), the Lower House rejected the motion calling for a truly independent investigation.

In an explanation of vote by Lisa Westerveld on behalf of GroenLinks, Chistenunie, CDA, PvdD, VVD, SGP, JA21, Volt, PvdA, Bijeen, D66, Den Haan and Omtzigt, this massive 'NO' was substantiated with the following inaccuracies (see the video of the explanation of vote here):

  1. In their explanation of vote, the parties mentioned twice state that the present committee is to investigate the nature and extent of the problem. This is not true.

The committee will only investigate the nature and give advice on detection. Research into the extent of organised abuse was included in the original motion, but was removed from the assignment by Minister Grapperhaus. During the debate of the committee of Justice and Security of 6 September last, Van Nispen (SP) and Ceder (CU) insisted on including the scope in the research. Minister Grapperhaus did promise to do so under that pressure, but the Hendriks Committee indicated a few days later that they would not do so. They announced this in a letter to the KTGG, a copy of which was sent to me. The accuracy of this information can easily be verified by asking the Hendriks Committee, info@commissiehendriks.nl.

The reason given is that the WODC does not consider it scientifically feasible to investigate the extent and that a committee has been set up to investigate how the extent of such phenomena should be investigated... talk about delay...

The Transgenerational Violence Knowledge Centre advises the committee not to ask survivors any questions 'about anything that could be traced back to them: no names of places, buildings or people, their place of birth or region, not the name of the care worker(s)'. This is to protect the safety of the survivors, which the current committee under Justice seems to require. The downside, of course, is that the committee will have no insight into the truth or likelihood of information, any involvement of high-ranking people or scope. Nor will the committee be able to give advice that is effective in terms of investigation. After all, if you have no idea whether, and in which positions within the police and judiciary, there may have been a deliberate undermining of the judicial process, you will always come up against this wall again when making reports.

  • In their explanation of vote, the parties mentioned state that the same government is going to appoint a new commission and therefore the motion does not provide a solution. This is not true.

The motion calls for an independent investigation by the Ministry of Justice, because victims also name people from that ministry as perpetrators. Adopting the motion means that it is not the Ministry of Justice but other officials who nominate the committee members, thus solving the problem of the independence of the judiciary.

But the motion solves another problem. One of the preconditions is as follows: a sounding board group of victims is given the opportunity to check in advance (before these people are invited to the committee) whether they have confidence in the proposed committee members. An idea that was first introduced by Michiel van Nispen, the submitter of the first motion (see article in Nederlands Dagblad, 6 October 2020, aim is - says Michiel van Nispen here rightly - 'that not the people about whom rumours are spread are placed on such a committee'). If he had stuck to that concept in the first motion, the Hendriks Committee might not be in the saddle now.

  • The parties mentioned evidently assume that the committee works independently of Justice, because Minister Grapperhaus has promised to send the final report directly and unchanged to the Second Chamber.

The fact that victims' data is stored at the Ministry of Justice, that the Minister of Justice appoints staff and can suspend or dismiss them and that Ministry employees are involved in the investigation (see Ministerial Appointment decision Hendriks Committee), is not mentioned. Every Member of Parliament can understand that this promise by Minister Grapperhaus in no way guarantees the independence of the judiciary. 

  • The said parties state that they do not want any delay of this investigation

If it is clear from the outset that the investigation in its current setting can hardly yield anything, the argument of 'delay' is meaningless. A good and careful investigation must be carried out and the investigation is only meaningful if many victims - especially those who tell about the involvement of high-ranking figures - have confidence in the commission.

Moreover, anyone who looks into the process of formation and progress of the present committee is certainly not impressed by its haste. If passionate people are put on it, who have the confidence of victims, the delay need not be significant.

To conclude

All MPs have been informed about almost all of these arguments several times. We have even spoken to some of them personally. Yet, 104 of the 150 Members of Parliament voted against this motion: stupidity or unwillingness?