Netherlands

Chamber disappointed with rejection of WOB verdict: ‘Rutte doctrine very much alive’

The House of Representatives is indignant at the decision of the Ministry of Health (VWS) to stick to the controversial way in which the WOB handles requests about corona policy. VWS itself determines when and which documents are published. The judge ruled last month that this is not allowed. Outgoing minister Hugo de Jonge announced yesterday that he would appeal against that ruling.

“Unbelievable”, PvdA MP Khadija Arib calls that decision. “An appeal costs time, money and the trust of citizens and journalism in the government.” That trust is now being damaged, according to the former Speaker of the House. D66 member Joost Sneller also thinks the appeal is unwise. “The WOB is a right. Making it a kind of privilege is not the right way.”

VVD MP Ulysse Ellian says he is disappointed and calls the decision “problematic for the relationship with citizens and society”. According to him, the Ministry of Health is now creating a picture in which “transparency is not the starting point. I think that is really a shame.”

Notes from outgoing minister De Jonge that have been sent to the House show that he wants to keep the alternative working method intact. According to him, this is the fastest way to make the many documents public.

MP Joost Sneller is surprised about this. “You saw this coming a year ago.” Parliamentary questions asked more quickly whether VWS had sufficient legal staff. At the time, six additional people were hired. After the court decision, the department is looking for fifty lawyers. “Rather cynical,” Sneller calls it: “escalating because of a court decision, not just to enforce the law.”

“At first I thought: 50 extra lawyers, that’s going well,” says VVD member Ellian. “But that turns out not to be the case.” The extra lawyers are there to implement the alternative working method of VWS. Ellian points out that an appeal is of course allowed, but “the longer I think about it, the crazier I find it. VWS says: we do not like what is in the law and we ignore it. The court says it is not possible , but they just go through with it.”

‘We must not accept this’

“The Rutte doctrine is very much alive”, writes SP MP Renske Leijten on Twitter. She calls the appeal of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport a “lucky way” and calls on the cabinet to “stop polluting our legal system by these kinds of appeals”.

Former President of Parliament Arib prepares parliamentary questions. “As a House we should not accept this. There is no other way to check VWS. We have to take a clear stand and bite the bullet.” She calls it a bad signal to the public. “In other words, the minister says: I flout the law, I will continue to litigate, and that with taxpayers’ money.”



Chamber disappointed with rejection of WOB verdict: ‘Rutte doctrine very much alive’
Source link Chamber disappointed with rejection of WOB verdict: ‘Rutte doctrine very much alive’

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