Netherlands: Jehovah’s Witnesses lose appeal over child abuse report

Jehovah's Witnesses lost appeal over child abuse Netherlands

The Dutch government does not need to remove a report of sexual abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses from the Internet. Also, the state does not have to post rectification.

Originally published on Nos News on August 4, 2020

The Arnhem Court of Appeal today ruled that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, on appeal, no longer have an urgent interest in their claims. The report was published months ago on Rijksoverheid.nl and wodc.nl and is also available on numerous other websites. “Therefore, there is insufficient urgency for removal or rectification.”

The court also states that removing the report will probably not result in the House of Representatives from discussing the results. Also, according to the court, the civil judge cannot order the minister to write a letter to the House of Representatives stating what the House should do with the report, which the Jehovah’s Witnesses had demanded.

Dissatisfied with handling of child abuse

At the end of January, the investigation revealed that Jehovah’s witnesses who experienced child sexual abuse within the religious community did not usually report to the police and are predominantly negative about the internal handling of the abuse.

In a response, the Jehovah’s Witnesses branch said that the community has been taking care of the victims and giving them pastoral care for years. The report is said to be discriminatory because it focuses only on one organization and ignores other faith communities. The Jehovah’s Witnesses ignored the advice to set up an internal hotline for sexual abuse.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses had brought summary proceedings a few days earlier to prevent publication of the report, but the judge did not agree.

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