On Wednesday 8 September 2020 Mr. Basim Razzo and the Dutch Minister of Defense (Bijleveld) came to an agreement about the amount in damages that the State of the Netherlands would pay to Razzo. In September 2015, Dutch F16's bombed his home in Mosul and the adjacent home of his brother. Razzo lost his wife, daughter, brother and nephew in that bombardment; he himself was seriously injured and suffers from chronic health problems as a result of the bombardment. The bombardment took place on the basis of incorrect intel, as the Dutch State has since acknowledged.
Razzo sent the State a notification of liability in March of this year. The State does not accept liability, but will compensate him. In that respect, the Minister of Defense has indicated that it is a 'voluntary compensation in light of the enormity of the human suffering that has been inflicted upon Mr. Razzo'. In the interest of his safety and that of his family, no comments will be made about the amount in damages Razzo will receive. He is very pleased with the outcome and is happy that the Netherlands was quick to offer him compensation. This will allow him to close this case and get back to his life.
Aside from compensation, the State has also drawn up a letter upon Razzo's request in which his name is cleared. In the letter, the State writes that it has no information that connects Razzo and/or his relatives to IS.
Razzo was represented in this case by lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld. She too was very surprised that the State is so quick to compensate her client for his loss.
See also (in Dutch and English)
Moroccan victims of Dutch politician Geert Wilders' statements about 'fewer Moroccans' in period around the elections in March 2014 are both satisfied and disappointed about the judgment of the Appeals Court of The Hague, rendered on 4 September 2020. Lawyers Barbara van Straaten and Göran Sluiter represent various Moroccan victims as injured parties in this long criminal trial. Sluiter:
"Our clients are satisfied that the Court has held that the Public Prosecutor's Office's case was not inadmissible and that Wilders was guilty of the crime of group-defamation when he made his statements about 'fewer Moroccans'. This part of the verdict is an important and powerful signal in the fight against racism and discrimination. However, our clients are disappointed with and amazed about three other parts of the verdict.
First, the Appeals Court wrongly acquitted Wilders of incitement to discrimination and/or hatred. This acquittal is barely motivated and ignores the law, in particular the jurisprudence of the Dutch Supreme Court, on this point.
Second, the Appeals Court did not impose a penalty on Wilders, which is something that cannot be reconciled with the grave nature of the facts at issue.
Thirdly, and contrary to case law of the Dutch Supreme Court on this point, the Appeals Court held that out clients’ claims for damages would impose a disproportionate burden on the criminal proceedings, and declared them inadmissible on those grounds.
Our clients are hopeful that these errors will be remedied in the event of a cassation appeal lodged by the Public Prosecutor's Office or the accused."
On Wednesday 9 September at 10:00 AM the distrtict court of The Hague will deliver its judgment in the case filed by Dilani Butink against the State of the Netherlands and the adoption agency because of her unlawful adoption from Sri Lanka. This is the first time that a Dutch court will deliver judgment in a complaint filed by an unlawfully adopted person against the Dutch State and an adoption agency. Dilani Butink is represented in these proceedings by Lisa-Marie Komp.
Unfortunately the hearing is not open to the general public due to special measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Press is allowed, and must register with the public relations department of the district Court of The Hague. Those who are not allowed entry to the hearing can follow it via a livestream. The link to the livestream will be published on this site.
On 20 May 2020, the Dutch news show Zembla published a report about the trial hearing about this case at the District Court of The Hague (link in photo):
Dredging company Boskalis is extracting sand nearby the city of Makassar, Indonesia for the expansion of the city's port. The extraction is affecting the fishing grounds of local fishermen and entails the risk of coastal erosion. Although Boskalis claims to have conducted extensive research into the risks of the extraction and the consequences of its conduct for the local communities, it refuses to share the information with the local communities. The local communities have not yet received any information about the project, making it impossible for them to assert their rights.
Both ENDS is requesting the court to order Boskalis to share the information about the project, including the (environmental) permits and risk analyses, with the local communities. Channa Samkalden and Elles ten Vergert are representing Both ENDS in this matter.
Annex (in Dutch)
Lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld and Brechtje Vossenberg are representing 19 women who were placed in institutions run by the Good Shepherd during their youth and had to perform forced labor there. The aim is to gain recognition for these women for the suffering they endured, and compensation for the damages they suffered as a result of their stay with the Good Shepherd.
There has been much discussion in recent months about how best to help the victims of the Good Shepherd so that they do indeed get the recognition they deserve. This has also been reported in the media, for example by newspaper NRC (see here, in Dutch).
The lawyers held the Good Shepherd liable in 2018 (see here) and issued a summons to court on 6 April 2020. The court case against the Good Shepherd is currently pending before the district court in Haarlem (see here). Bureau Clara Wichmann is supporting this court case and acts as twentieth plaintiff. The bureau is doing this in the hope that the rights of women who are not involved in this case as plaintiff will also be guaranteed.
Apart from this, the lawyers also held the State of the Netherlands liable on behalf of their clients in May 2020. The State seriously failed to fulfill its obligations towards women such as the clients. At the time, the absence of proper supervision by the State allowed the situation within the Good Shepherd-institutions could exist and could also continue. All this was confirmed in 2019 in an investigation into the role of the State in the Good Shepherd-case, which was ordered by the Minister of Legal Protection (Dekker). The question of whether the State would also be engaged in a lawsuit was made to hinge on the manner in which the State would give shape to the apologies, recognition and compensation that Minister Dekker had promised to the victims of the Good Shepherd on behalf of the State. Because, in the opinion of the clients however, the State is not handling this issue properly, they have recently decided that they will also bring against against the State to court. This has also been reported in the media, including in newspaper Trouw (see here, in Dutch) The summons is expected to be issued this fall.
Attachments (in Dutch)
On 21 August, the Amsterdam District Court held that Palestinians who are forced to leave the Gaza strip due to the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza, cannot be regarded to have left voluntarity. The court found that they can therefore also not be expected to return. In legal terms: article 1(D) of the Refugee Convention does not apply to these group and they therefore enjoy the protection of article 1(A) of the Convention. This means that these people, Palestinians from Gaza, should in principle be considered as refugees under the Convention. The court did find, however, that the foregoing only applies if the refugees fell under the care of UNRWA.
This is the first time that a Dutch court qualifies the situation in Gaza as a humanitairian crisis, and subsequently attaches legal consequences in terms of asylum law. The State Secretary for Justice can appeal this decision within four weeks.
The full judgment of the court can be accessed here (in Dutch).
This case was handled by Marq Wijngaarden.
On August 10, 2020, the highest judicial body of the UN Cambodia Tribunal terminated the case against AO An (see press release).
AO An was suspected of crimes against humanity and genocide during the Khmer Rouge regime in the period 1975-1979. He has been the subject of an investigation since 2008. Göran Sluiter had been his lawyer since 2012, together with Mom Luch (Cambodia) and Richard Rogers (UK). He welcomes the Supreme Court Chamber's ruling: "Client has always claimed to be innocent and several judges had already ruled that his case did not belong to the ECCC. That has now been confirmed. This termination, however, could and should have come much earlier. "
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Today, the Court of Appeal in The Hague acquitted a Syrian defendant of all charges, including membership of a terrorist organisation and human trafficking. In 2018, the Rotterdam District Court had initially convicted the defendant for membership of a Jabhat al-Nusra and complicity in the organisation of another refugee's escape from Syria to the Netherlands. The District Court had sentenced the defendant to 4 years imprisonment.
In appeal, the public prosecutor had requested a sentence of 6 years. However, the Appeal Court overturned the judgment and acquitted the defendant on all counts due to lack of evidence.
The defendant was represented in the case by Ms Frederieke Dölle.
For the first time, judicial proceedings have been initiated against the State of the Netherlands for its role in the unlawful separation of mothers from their children in the period 1956 to 1984.
During this period, thousands of unmarried women gave up their children for adoption, often under pressure from the authorities. Ms. Scheele-Gertsen is one of these women. 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 was only obliged to intervene in the lawful relationship of mother and son under 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 used its legal powers to separate Ms. Scheele-Gertsen and her son. Among other things, the Board pressured Ms. Scheele-Gertsen and told her that her son's interests required 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.
Many other women suffered a similar fate. 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. ‘De Nederlandse Afstandsmoeder’ (a foundation for women who were separated from their children) also supports the case.
To finance the legal proceedings, Ms. Scheele-Gertsen and Bureau Clara Wichmann have launched a crowdfunding campaign; more information about that is available here.
Ms. Scheele-Gertsen and Bureau Clara Wichmann are assisted in this case by lawyer Lisa-Marie Komp.
[Photo: Trudy Scheele-Gertsen | Source: private collection TSG]
Many measures that have been taken by nursing homes to protect their residents against the coronavirus are illegal. Although the Dutch government has called for the closing of nursing homes (visitors were no longer welcome, residents were no longer allowed to go outside), there is no legal basis for these measures. Nursing homes cannot lock residents up without a legal basis to do so. Moreover, many of the measures are not proportionate to the aim pursued, particularly now that the restrictions for the rest of the country are being eased up. This is in violation of the right to family life, and there are also cases of inhuman treatment in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
On behalf of the Client Council of nursing home Stichting Amsta, location Vondelstede, lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld and Elles ten Vergert have held the nursing home liable for the strict measures that it has applied, arguing that the institution thereby violated the human rights of its residents. The Client Council requested that the restrictions would be to ease their restrictions. Stichting Amsta has since announced that it will adjust the measures in accordance with the demands of the Client Council.
Amsta Foundation is not the only nursing home that has implemented too rigorous measures. The lawyers have therefore also sent a letter to Public Health Minister De Jonge on behalf of the Client Council and a number of other individuals whose relatives live in various healthcare institutions. After all, the State called for the nursing homes to be closed, and is partly responsible for the resulting situation. Minister De Jonge was urged to clearly communicate that healthcare institutions must respect the basic human rights of residents and families. You can find the letter to Minister De Jonge here (in Dutch). De Jonge has now said 'he would like to speak with Zegveld about this soon'.
On 25 March 2020, the District Court of The Hague rendered a final verdict in which it granted the claims of several children and widows of men who had been summarily executed by the Dutch army on South-Sulawesi in 1947. It is now clear that none of the parties will file an appeal against that final verdict, so that the verdict will become final when the deadline for appeal passes later this month.
The cases of the widows whose claims have been granted by the court, will be settled with the State on the basis of the out-of-court settlement scheme that the State opened for widows of men who were killed during the course of summary execution rounds ‘of similar nature and gravity as Rawagedeh and South-Sulwesi’ (the so-called ‘Bekendmaking’; in effect until 11 september 2021). In accordance with this settlement sceme, the widows will each receive Euro 20,000 in compensation from the State.
At present, there is no similar settlement scheme for the children of summarily executed men. However, last week the State announced that one will become available. The contours of that scheme will be worked out in the coming period. By opening such a scheme to the children of summarily executed men, the State is (finally) responding to the plea by this group of surviving relatives to be treated the same as the widows. With regard to the children, the position of the State has always been that it can invoke prescription, arguing that children were ‘less directly’ affected by the executions than widows. The District Court of the Hague has already rejected that line of argument several times, the first time was on 11 March 2015 in the cases at hand; the interlocutory appeal that the State filed against that verdict on prescription foundered before the Appeals Court of The Hague on 1 October 2019.
Lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld and Brechtje Vossenberg have long since represented the plaintiffs in these proceedings. The lawyers also represent victims and surviving relatives in comparable cases concerning the wartime violence committed by the State during the war of independence in the former Dutch East-Indies.
Lisa-Marie Komp has been proclaimed jurist of the week by the Dutch legal magazine “Mr.”. The reason is the performance of Komp as counselor of Dilani Butink in a case against the Dutch State and an adoption agency about illegal adoption. The full interview with Lisa-Marie can be found here (in Dutch).
Over the past weeks, the public criticism on Corona fines has been growing. Today it was announced that the Office of the Public Prosecutor revoked a penal fine that was imposed for violation of the Covid 19-measures (the so-called 'Corona fine'). This seems to be the first case in which this decision has been taken. Our lawyer, Frederieke Dölle, already publicly criticised the current policy in the Dutch newspaper Trouw. She pointed out the law enforcement seems to be random and that the (local) laws on which these fines are based lack legitimacy.
We therefore continue to advise people who are confronted with a Corona fine to lodge an objection. The case will then be judged by a court of law. In our experience, judges tend to take more consideration of the specific circumstances of the case and are therefore less likely to impose (high) penalties. Furthermore, from today's news it became clear that the Office of the Public Prosecutor may also be willing to revoke the fine.
The Court in Rotterdam declared the prosecutor inadmissible in the prosecution of a woman who had send money to her detained partner while he was targeted by economic sanctions. According to the court, no reasonable prosecutor could have decided to pursue this prosecution, as the money was send to the Ministry of Justice and Security and a new policy allows detained individuals against whom sanctions are in place to have some money.
Tamara Buruma represented the defendant
On Monday May 18th at 09:30 a.m. the distrtict court of The Hague will hold a hearing in the case filed by Dilani Butink against the State of the Netherlands and the adotion agency because of her unlawful adoption. This is the first time that a Dutch court will consider the complaint filed by an unlawfully adopted person against the Dutch State and an adoption agency.
In 2017 the documentary series Zembla uncovered major malpractice with regard to adoptions from Sri Lanka to the Netherlands. In the case of Dilani Butink, a lot went wrong as well. She was exchanged against another baby and her adoption papers turned out to be falsified. By law, adoptions were only allowed to take place if they were in the interest of the child. The adotion agency and the State were obliged to ensure that they were. In this case, Dilani Butink holds the Dutch State and the adoption agency liable for failing to ensure that her adoption was in her own best interest. Furthermore, she requests support in finding her biological parents. Dilani Butink is represented in these proceedings by Lisa-Marie Komp.
Unfortunately the hearing is not open to the public due to special measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Press is allowed, and must register with the public relations department of the district Court of The Hague. Those who are not allowed entry to the hearing can follow it via this live stream.
[Photos: [left] Dilani Butink in Sri Lanka, awaiting adoption (1992) [right] Dilani Butink. Source: private collection DB]