Meanwhile in the Netherlands:
Minister Dekker: Jehovah's Witnesses must review abuse policy
In order to protect children better against abuse, the Jehovah's Witnesses must look back on Catholics, according to Minister Dekker. But abuse victims think that this approach will not work.
Minister Sander Dekker for Legal Protection wants the Jehovah's Witnesses to conduct an independent investigation of sexual abuse within the community, just like the Catholic Church. This is stated in a letter he sent this week to the Parliamentary Committee for Justice and Security. In July, he asked for a reaction to the 'worrisome messages' in Trouw about the way in which the religious organization handles abuse.
Research from this newspaper showed that the internal legal system that the religious organization uses, protects children poorly and ensures that perpetrators often go free. Last month, the Jehova board of the ministry had a meeting to discuss what measures they are taking to prevent this.
The minister advised the administration to 'study and, where possible, take the measures of the Catholic Church against sexual abuse'. He points to the important contribution of the independent investigation by the Deetman Commission, set up by the church itself.
Michel van Hilten, spokesperson for the Jehovah's Witnesses, does not want to say whether such research will come about because discussions with the ministry are still ongoing. "We are going to study the measures of the Catholic Church," says Van Hilten. According to him, the board, based in Emmen, has already taken 'a great deal' of measures 'in line with what other organizations do'.
When asked what that means in practice, he says: "You can think of things like monitoring and following perpetrators of child abuse." The Jehovah's Witnesses are a Christian society with some 30,000 supporters in the Netherlands, who frequently visit the doors go and proclaim their faith in Jehovah on the street.
The newly established Reclaimed Voices foundation, which defends abuse victims within the Jehovah's Witnesses, is pleased that 'the problem now lies on the minister's desk', says co-founder and abuse victim Frank Huiting. According to the foundation the measures of the Catholic Church 'do not cover what happens within the witness' community.
Huiting: "The measures are aimed at officials, but the problem with the witnesses is larger than that; it is about the way in which abuse is dealt with through an internal legal system." The letter from the minister revolves around prevention of abuse, he notes. "That's important, but what happens to the suffering that has already happened?"
Reclaimed Voices wants to discuss this with both the minister and the Jehovah's Witnesses. The jehovah's Witnesses' board earlier indicated that they were prepared to do so.This conversation has not yet taken place, despite insistence, according to Huiting. Spokesman Van Hilten indicates that the Jehovah's Witnesses want to wait for the follow-up discussion at the ministry.
Incidentally, the question is whether the administration in the Netherlands can change anything about the abuse policy. That is the same internationally and is determined by the head office in New York. Minister Dekker does not yet know what he will do if the board refuses to take over the measures of the Catholic Church. "We are not going to anticipate this", according to his spokesman.
Original News Paper article in Dutch: https://www.trouw.nl/religie-en-filosofie/minister-dekker-jehova-s-getuigen-moeten-misbruikbeleid-onder-de-loep-nemen-~a796d271/