On Wednesday 26 January 2022, 10:00 a.m., the District Court of The Hague will render a judgment in the proceedings instituted by Ms Scheele-Gertsen and Bureau Clara Wichmann against the Dutch State on account of the unlawful separation of unmarried mothers from their children in the period 1956-1984. This is the first time that a Dutch court rules on a complaint by a relinquished mother against the State.

  • Anyone who would like to attend the ruling can register for it by sending an email to SecretariaatInternationaal@prakkendoliveira.nl with "registration ruling Scheele-Gertsen and BCW / State" in the subject line. Due to the corona measures there are limited places available. The secretariat will forward the names of those who have registered to the court in order of receipt and will notify you on 24 January whether or not you will be able to attend the ruling in person. For anyone who cannot attend the judgment in person, there will be a live stream; the link will be published on this website as soon as it is available.**
  • Press should register itself with the Information Department of the District Court of The Hague

** Update of 21-01-2021: the link to the livestream for this court hearing can be found >> HERE << 

Background
In 2020 the reports were made in the Dutch media (Trouw and Omroep Gelderland) about how in the period 1956-1984, a system evolved in which unmarried mothers were separated from their children against their wil. Aside from this, the Dutch journalist Sarah Tekath produced a podcast about the history of relinquishment and adoption in the Netherlands. The women were not fully and correctly informed of their rights. It was imprinted upon them that that it would be better for their child if there were to put it up for adoption. Possibilities that were available to support them in raising their child themselves were kept from them. Contrary to the truth, they were portrayed as women who neither wanted nor could raise their children. This was also the case with Ms. Scheele-Gertsen. In 1968 she gave birth to a healthy son whom she wanted to raise. Because she was not married at the time, she was discriminated against as an unwed mother. Under pressure from, amongst others, the Child Protection Board (in Dutch: Raad voor de Kinderbescherming, RvdK) however, she had to give up her son for adoption.

According to the applicable law at the time, the Dutch State could intervene in the lawful relationship between mother and child in exceptional circumstances.  Moreover, the State was obliged to support mother and child so that they would be able to stay together as much as possible. However, the Child Protection Board made unalwful use of its authority to separate Ms. Scheele-Gertsen and her son. Among other things, the Board pressured Ms. Scheele-Gertsen and told her that it was in her son's interest for her to part with him. Being separated from his mother however, was not in his interests at all. The result of the separation was that he had to stay in a children's home for almost 3 years, where he became seriously ill as a result of his stay there. As such, the actions by the State seriously harmed both the interests of Ms. Scheele-Gertsen as mother, and those of her son.

Thousands of other women suffered a similar fate. Because of this, they were burdened with a lifetime of feelings of guilt, shame and fear. Bureau Clara Wichmann stands up for these women and demands that their suffering is acknowledged by the court.The foundation 'The Dutch Relinquished Mother' (in Dutch: 'De Nederlandse Afstandsmoeder'), a foundation for women who were separated from their children, also supports the case.

Ms Scheele-Gertsen and Bureau Clara Wichmann are represented in the proceedings by lawyer Lisa-Marie Komp.

Previously

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Prakken d'Oliveira, formerly known as Böhler, is a law firm with expertise and experience in asylum and immigration law, European law, administrative law, international criminal law and human rights. Our lawyers provide advice and conduct procedures before the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND), the Dutch Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security Services (CTIVD), the District- and Appeals courts, the Administrative Law Division of the Dutch Council of State, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), the Human Rights Treaty Bodies of the United Nations (UN), the International Criminal Court (ICC), and other international tribunals.