Dutch House of Representatives formally requests the government to start an investigation re. JW child abuse

by Anders Andersen 34 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • john.prestor

    No, Doubter, you evidently don't. Your remark about "imperfect" organizations suggests that you're a Jehovah's Witness who sees your organization as fallible when you want it to be fallible, and infallible when you want it to be infallible; that is, you engage in double-think.

    Answer the question: why should the government not investigate an organization that, in other places in the world, on the basis of corporate policy, has turned a blind eye to the abuse of children? Your position is frankly astonishing and the definition of callous. If you yourself were abused by an Elder, you would think differently.

  • Doubter


    Thanks for the question.

    A government can absolutely investigate an organization, if it has a legit basis for it.

    Answer this question: what irrefutable independent evidence do you have that jws turned a blind eye to child abuse?

    If what you say is true, then outside of an admission, we’d see courts ruling as such.

    What court has ruled that way against jw child abuse policies?

  • zeb

    The courts that ruled in the Conti case for one.

  • john.prestor

    The Australian Royal Commission. Have you read their findings and/or watched their proceedings? The latter can be found on YouTube.

  • Doubter

    Nah, one didn’t result in a ruling that the policies were unlawful, and the other wasn’t even a court hearing.

  • zeb

    'Answer this question: what irrefutable independent evidence do you have that jws turned a blind eye to child abuse?'

    answer. Over 1000 cases of abuse the wts in Sydney has knowledge of and did not report these to the Police in the respective states. BTW do you have children?


    The ARC was signed into existence by HM Queen Elizabeth at the request of the Australian Government to investigate. It is an investigative commission not a trial, but it has resulted in trial cases now being pursued.

  • ThomasCovenant

    Doubter said,

    ''If 300 people accused me of dealing illegal drugs because I am a doctor who writes prescriptions to sick people, that doesn’t mean I’m dealing illegal drugs.''

    No, of course it wouldn't mean that you were actually dealing illegal drugs. That would be a bit silly wouldn't it.

    However I have to say that if 300 different people accused my doctor of dealing illegal drugs then at the very least I'd want somebody, preferably the police in this analogy, to do some kind of investigation. Wouldn't anybody?

  • john.prestor

    Doubter, I'm getting tired of arguing with you. Now, you'll accuse me of not being able to convince you, and you're right, I can't: you don't want to be convinced. But let me state this very clearly: Jehovah's Witnesses have a very serious problem with child abuse, and we know it, because there's ample evidence, evidence that we've cited or provided for you.

    Wake up. Stop making apologies, in the Greek sense, for an organization that has allowed pedophiles to prey on children.

    So, I won't be replying any more. Bye for now.

  • Anders Andersen
    Anders Andersen

    Dear Doubter,

    I'll try to explain again...

    The investigation that the government urged the JW to conduct is not a criminal court case.
    It's an attempt to see if current JW policies and practices are any good in preventing child abuse, and supporting victims once abuse happened.
    If during the investigation it is found that policies and practices could be improved, recommendations for improvements will be given.
    That's it.

    Starting an inquiry is not the same as having already convicted one in court.

    The latter requires evidence beyond reasonable doubt, the first yields evidence instead of requiring it.

    To request an organization to start such an investigation there is no need for evidence in the same way as there is in a criminal case where the police must have evidence before they make an arrest, and the DA's office must have evidence before bringing someone before a judge.
    Why not? Because this is not a criminal court case. It's simply a polite (but urgent) request from the government to a private party. The government cannot and will not make JW NL cooperate with their inquiry.

    So far there are a couple hundred complaints and some claims that JW practices and policies re. child abuse are fatally flawed.
    The JW claim they are actually quite good.
    What could be done to find out who's right?
    Run an independent investigation perhaps?

    Now since JW refuse, the government might have to take it upon themselves to run such an investigation.

    I did not say the govt asked for no reason, I said the reason was basically illegitimate.
    I think when I’m saying is, that when a government wants to investigate you, the expectation is that there is some evidence that facilitates it. There HAS to be, or the investigation is by default illegal.
    So what I am hearing is that they don’t have any evidence, but they want investigate anyway.
    that makes no sense, unless, they merely believe what they are being told yet can’t validate independently.
    So the investigation is really based on nothing but the opinions of the govt.
    A government can absolutely investigate an organization, if it has a legit basis for it.
    Answer this question: what irrefutable independent evidence do you have that jws turned a blind eye to child abuse?
    If what you say is true, then outside of an admission, we’d see courts ruling as such.
    What court has ruled that way against jw child abuse policies?
    im fine with government inquires, I only care about the basis, or premises, because fairness matters most.

    Are you familiar with the Dutch legal system?
    It appears not.

    The Dutch government can decide to start an inquiry or do research into any issue (relevant to the public) they are concerned about.

    • Do Dutch dog breeders treat their dogs well?
    • Does artificial grass on soccer fields harm the environment?
    • Do pension funds invest their money properly?
    • Does religion X do enough to prevent child abuse and do they handle abuse cases adequately?

    Surely the government doesn't want to waste time and money starting inquiries on unimportant issues, or for which absolutely zero basis exists.
    But if there are signals (not necessarily 'irrefutable evidence') that there may be an issue that is relevant to the Dutch public, the government may choose to inquire into that topic.
    Once they have done so, the might uncover illegal acts, which are then referred to the DA.
    Or they find some law should be changed because what happens is perfectly legal, but undesirable nonetheless. Or maybe some private party might be recommended to change their policies.
    Or they find there is no issue at all.

    But since such a government inquiry is not an indictment in a criminal court case, they don't need irrefutable evidence to start an investigation.

    The fairness in the process is that nobody is judged or condemned before the results of the inquiry are in.
    And even then, the inquiry can only result in a moral condemnation. Any legal judgements are reserved for the judicial system, that's why a government inquiry can't and won't take any actions that are reserved for the DA's office.

    In the case of the JW, there are strong signals that there may be an issue: almost 300 reports of abuse, including reports of the JW policies leading to people not reporting abuse to the police.
    This is enough for the government to be concerned, as Dutch JW are also Dutch citizens, and the government has a duty to try to protect Dutch citizens and their children from abuse.
    So the government can legally decide to research the issue and establish whether there actually is an issue or not, and if so, what can be done to resolve it.

    The government wanted JW to run this investigation themselves, as that would be much easier (they have access to more documents, victims who are still JW might be more willing to talk to researchers of a JW approved inquiry) and much more useful (as the JW leaders would be more likely to accept the recommendations from their own inquiry)
    Unfortunately the Dutch JW leaders see no need to re-evaluate their child abuse policies, and now the government might start the inquiry themselves.

    if they “know this”, then why did Dekker make such a ridiculous statement?

    Who do you thinks knows Dutch law better: you, or a Dutch minister and the people in his department?

    Are you proposing that the minister and the House of Representatives are advocating an illegal inquiry because they dislike JW? Or are you simply wishing too hard this inquiry is illegal?

    Remember, The Netherlands is not Russia or China. The government quite likes to adhere to the law around here.

    Anders, you say the jws refuse to acknowledge the have a problem with child abuse in the Netherlands.
    but you admit there is no clear evidence of illegal activity (coverups, which are illegal).

    This statement shows a lack of understanding of (1) abuse in general, (2) the issue with JW child abuse specifically, and (3) the nature of the investigation proposed by the government.

    1) Abuse victims, especially children, are generally quite reluctant to report abuse to the police as doing so would possibly prolong their trauma of have them relive it. It is estimated that around 13% of child abuse cases are also reported to the police (see for example http://victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/disclosure-statistics). And even when abuse is reported to the police, a conviction doesn't always follow.

    2) The JW (are alleged to) have a culture that foster distrust and fear for 'worldly' authorities, a strong reluctance to ever talk negatively about "God's pure people" and thereby "bring reproach on Jehovah's name", reluctance to drag a brother to court. In addition JW policies do nothing to support abuse victims to report to the police, and according to some victims they were even actively discouraged to report the abuse to the police.

    Take 1 and 2 together, and it becomes clear why we should be concerned that the number of abuse victims is much, much higher than the number of JW abusers convicted in court cases.

    Yet the JW leaders refuse to even consider the possibility that there may be an issue. The flat out say there is no issue.

    As for (3): again, the aim of the investigation is not convict JW NL of coverups or other illegal activities based on known evidence.

    It is an inquiry with the aim to make sure JW policies and culture are any good when it comes to preventing child abuse and supporting victims, and improve the policies and culture where needed.

    Ok, show me the cases, court rulings, etc. ill happily accept it.

    You have been shown the cases and the conclusions of the ARC, several court cases in the USA and the UK Charity Commission investigations.

    All of those point to a systemic issues with the way JW handle child abuse.Yet you seem to fail to acknowledge this.

    And your questions are horribly flawed, because you were suggesting that any imperfect organization needs to be investigated by the government. are you serious? Don’t we all have rights?

    My questions were not the standard by which the government should think about whether they should initiate an inquiry or not.
    My questions were intended to make you reflect on whether an inquiry into JW would be a bad thing or not.

    If the inquiry is run, either JW get to improve their child abuse policies, or the rest of the world can learn from JW policies.
    It's a win-win situation. Why oppose it so much?

    Who cares about the RCC right now? They admitted to hiding abuse, and so has the Pope. Their guilt is beyond doubt.
    The jws have no such established guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
    Apples to oranges

    In the Netherlands, the RCC cooperated with the government and conducted an independent inquiry into their child abuse issues.
    At the time the inquiry started, the RCC could rightfully have claimed "there are almost no criminal cases known, nor is their evidence apart from stories of some alleged victims".
    Their guilt was not established at all. Just like you are claiming now about JW.
    Regardless, the RCC did the right thing: they chose to look inward, provide transparency, and found out that they had a problem that needed solving.

    The RCC in the Netherlands acknowledged the problem they had, actively improved their policies, and set up a complaint and redress procedure for victims....exactly because of that independent inquiry that the government initiated.
    JW choose to bury their heads in the sand...it appears they don't even want to know whether they have an issue or not.

    I strongly urge you to think about whether the only way to judge practices and policies is in criminal court.
    Imagine everyone would argue only based on "established guilt beyond reasonable doubt".

    • Employee: Sir, multiple customers have complained that out coffee is so hot they burn their mouths on it.
    • Manager: I don't care. As long as our guilt hasn't be established beyond reasonable doubt we're not looking into this issue.
    • Employee: But....but....we could easily put a questionnaire to our customers about coffee temp. And it's easy to change the coffee temp too. Why not listen to our customers?
    • Manager: I still don't care. There's no evidence we do anything wrong, so we won't put a questionnaire to our customers.
    • Employee: Yeah.....but wouldn't the questionnaire be needed to get the evidence in the first place?
      Manager: Shut up and go to work.

    I understand that in the USA a lot of things are determined in court (including whether coffee was served too hot or not), but it's not like that in the whole world.

    • Isn't it perfectly reasonable to look to your own policies to see if they need to be improved, without having been convicted of a crime?
    • Do you think JW policies around child abuse and support of victims could be improved?
    • Do you think religions have an effect on and a moral duty to their members and to the public?
    • Do you think governments should keep an eye on the effect religions have on their members and the public?
    • Do you think a government should try to find out if any harmful issues exist with a religion if there are signals that there may be harmful issues?

    Anyway, the main points for you to take away from this comment are

    • the Dutch government is well within their legal boundaries when inquiring into possible JW child abuse issues,

    • and this inquiry is not a conviction in a criminal court case that requires evidence beyond reasonable doubt. This is an inquiry by the government to see if a certain social issue needs intervention. It can be started simply due to the fact that the government is concerned about the issue.
  • john.prestor

    Anders Andersen: Excellent response, and I'm glad you familiarized us with that information!

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