Bureau Clara Wichmann and Trudy Scheele-Gertsen are appealing against the disappointing ruling by the District Court of The Hague in the case concerning forced separation of mothers and children. With this appeal, both parties want the State to be held liable for the injustice done to Trudy Scheele-Gertsen and thousands of other mothers when they were forced to give up their children.

From 1956 to 1984, between 13,000 and 20,000 mothers were pressured to give up their children. Often because they were unmarried. On January 26, 2022, the District Court of The Hague ruled that the Child Protection Council, and thus the State, had not acted in a structurally legally culpable manner, because the actions of the Child Protection Council were said to be related to the spirit of the times. Bureau Clara Wichmann and Trudy Scheele-Gertsen oppose this judgment with the appeal. They argue that under the law, the Child Protection Council should have assisted these mothers and educated them about their rights. In many cases, however, the Child Protection Council did the opposite. This has caused great distress to the mothers, children and others involved.

In addition, the statute of limitations is relevant in this case because the events occurred between 1956 and 1984. The Court did not rule on possible statutes of limitations, but indicated that there are grounds to believe that a statute of limitations defense could succeed. Bureau Clara Wichmann and Trudy Scheele-Gertsen believe that because the suffering of these women, their children and family members still continues, the State must take responsibility itself and therefore should not invoke the statute of limitations. Because for a long time there was collective silence among the women involved about what happened to them, there are also legally good grounds to make an exception to the statute of limitations.

Trudy Scheele-Gertsen and Bureau Clara Wichmann want an acknowledgement that wrongful action was taken against these mothers and that the Council has failed these mothers. In line with Ireland and Australia, they argued for a national apology and compensation scheme.

Lisa-Marie Komp, of law firm Prakken d'Oliveira, represents Trudy Scheele-Gertsen and Bureau Clara Wichmann in these proceedings. On behalf of law firm Stibbe, Branda Katan, Ivar Koudstaal, Laurence van 't Hoff and Jeltje Straatman are assisting Bureau Clara Wichmann Pro Bono.


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