By JOHN BUTLER
Don't know if this is exactly a new letter but it's interesting.
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By Jack Ryan
Jehovah's Witnesses will do everything to avoid having to comply with a declaration obligation for cases of sexual abuse. That experts conclude on the basis of new internal documents from the church, which are in the hands of RTL Nieuws.
These are letters from the head office in America to departments in other countries. These letters discuss what needs to be done if a declaration is required in that country. The central management points out to the departments in the letters that they have to do everything they can to get out of such a duty to report.
Jehovah's Witnesses are under attack because they do not report internal cases of sexual abuse to the police. The perpetrators are tried in an internal legal system, but receive no prison sentence or fine. The heaviest punishment is exclusion from the church.
Church organization refuses to cooperate
Reports are made of the internal legal cases containing details about the abuse and sometimes even confessions of perpetrators. MPs and victims of abuse have called upon Jehovah's Witnesses since the beginning of this year to share these documents with the police and judiciary. Until now, the church organization has refused that.
The letters that RTL Nieuws has, show that a possible declaration obligation for sexual abuse in the Netherlands may have little effect on Jehovah's Witnesses, says Raymond Hintjes. He is chairman of the victim organization Reclaimed Voices. "Even if a declaration obligation is introduced, we see that the Jehovah's Witnesses will still try to get out of it through a deliberate action."
Arrogant contempt for the rule of law
Professor of criminal law Henny Sackers of the University of Nijmegen thinks the position of the church is shocking. "It seems almost a kind of arrogant contempt for the Dutch legal system, now that they want to do everything to prevent government interference, criminal government interference."
Jehovah's Witnesses invoke the privilege of refusal when refusing legal aid. Clergymen do not have to testify under that right about what a believer has told them in confidence. Earlier, Minister Dekker (Legal Protection) wrote to the House of Representatives that it is not clear whether Jehovah's Witnesses may use the right of non-disclosure in this way. Dekker is now investigating whether it makes sense to set a declaration obligation.
The documents that RTL Nieuws possesses can not be published because they may be able to identify the source.
Originally posted in Dutch on RTL Nieuws
By Jack Ryan
Religious sect Jehovah’s Witnesses has refused to hand over documents to the public prosecutor in which an ex-member admits the abuse of a child, also member of the sect at the time, RTL Nieuws reports. Samet G, now 31, was a minor himself when the abuse of his 4 year-old niece started. The abuse continued until she was 14 and was reported to the police in 2015 when the girl and her mother left the Christian sect. A court in Breda last week sentenced G to a 9 months suspended sentence and a fine for the abuse but did not have access to the confession, which dates from 2011. G is appealing against his conviction.
JehovahÂ’s Witnesses have their own internal committees which sit in judgement in cases of sexual abuse and do not involve the police. A record of these proceedings is made and kept. According to RTL, the public prosecutorÂ’s request for a copy of the confession was refused on the grounds that it would compromise the manÂ’s privacy and that, by law, clergymen, or in this case the elders, cannot be forced to reveal what has been told to them in confidence. Although there is doubt among lawyers that the JehovahÂ’s Witnesses elders can claim this right, the public prosecutor accepted the refusal, RTL writes.
The sect also refuses to cooperate in an independent inquiry and, according to minister for legal protection Sander Dekker, it cannot be forced to do so. Abuse survivors According to Reclaimed Voices, an organisation that helps ex-JehovahÂ’s Witnesses members who were victims of sexual abuse, the minister needs to do much more. Â‘If we canÂ’t get the files via the courts we need politicians to act. Someone must force the JehovahÂ’s Witnesses to hand them over,Â’ the organisationÂ’s spokesman Frank Huiting told RTL. CDA MP Madeleine van Toorenburg and other MPs have asked the minister to investigate if JehovahÂ’s Witness have the right to refuse access to documents that might shed light on a criminal case and slated the sectÂ’s Â‘culture of silence and cover-ups,Â’ RTL writes. JehovahÂ’s Witnesses are being widely accused of silencing victims of sexual abuse within the sect. The Guardian newspaper recently uncovered a case involving at least 100 victims who claim to have been abused.
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