Today the Appeals Court in The Hague rendered its verdict in two cases concerning the violence committed against the population of the former East-Indies by the Dutch army. The first case concerned five children of men who were summarily executed on South-Sulawesi in 1947 (Monji et al). The second case concerned Mr. Yaseman who was tortured by the Dutch army in captivity on Java in 1947. In both cases, the State of the Netherlands argued on appeal that the claims were out of time and that the statute of limitations could not be lifted; the Appeals Court rejected those arguments and concluded that it was unacceptable by standards of reasonableness and fairness for the State to invoke the statute of limitations.
In doing so, the Appeals Court has confirmed the case law of the District Court of The Hague, in which it was repeatedly held that the statute of limitations could be lifted in exceptional cases such as these. This possibility was first accepted by the District Court of The Hague in its verdict of September 14th, 2011 concerning the summary mass-executions carried out by the Dutch army in 1949 in the Javanese village Rawagedeh. That case was initiated by widows of summarily executed men and a man who survived that bloodbath. In 2015, the District Court of The Hague held that the State could also not invoke the statute of limitations vis-à-vis children of summarily executed men (Monji et al). In 2016, (interlocutory) verdicts followed in which the court held that the limitation period could also be lifted in the case of a Javanese woman who was gang-raped by Dutch soldiers in 1949 and in the case concerning the torture of Mr. Yaseman while he was in Dutch captivity on Java in 1947.
The Appeals Court’s verdict in the case of Monji et al concerned an interlocutory appeal against i.a. the 2015-interlocutory verdict in which the court had rendered its verdict on the limitation period vis-à-vis the children. This case is currently pending before the District Court of The Hague and is in its final phases; the debate between parties is focuses on the evidence. Yaseman passed away in 2018, a few months before the court granted his claim in its final judgment in the case (his grandson acted as defendant in the appeal proceedings initiated by the State against that decision).
[Photograph: Defendants | Source: Foundation KUKB]
Annexes (in Dutch)
- Verdict by the Appeals Court of The Hague, October 1st 2019 (Monji et al)
- Verdict by the Appeals Court of The Hague, October 1st 2019 (Yaseman)
- 'Relatives of Dutch colonial victims in Indonesia to get day in court', The Guardian, 1 October 2019
- W. Thijssen, 'Hof: kinderen van geëxecuteerde Indonesiërs mogen Nederland aansprakelijk stellen', 1 October 2019
- F. Vermeulen, 'Uitspraak verjaring oorlogsmisdaden kan verstrekkende gevolgen hebben', NRC, 1 October 2019