AD – 18th May 2018
Minister wants to test Jehova’s tax advantage after alleged sexual abuse
Minister Sander Dekker (Legal Protection) will investigate whether the tax benefits enjoyed by Jehovah’s Witnesses can be withdrawn. It is about a possible reaction to the reports of sexual abuse within the closed community.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses make use of an exceptional position at the Tax Office for General Benefit Organizations (ANBI). CDA Member of Parliament Madeleine van Toorenburg today wondered openly whether these tax benefits are justified, as the religious community refuses to independently investigate the abuse of children in particular within their own ranks. “If you are an institution of general interest, but are not prepared to look at how you can protect children, what usefulness do you have?” Says Van Toorenburg. Her annoyance is widely shared in the House.
Dekker shows understanding for the call, but does temper the expectations. “The Jehovah’s will say that there has been no condemnation. And the last thing I want them is a matter that we then lose. You have to know in advance whether you are in your right.”
Van Toorenburg understands the remarks made by Dekker, but still wants to encourage him to “fight that battle”.
Dekker said yesterday that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, despite frantic efforts on his part, are not prepared to conduct an independent investigation into child abuse. They do not think that is necessary because only a few victims have reported. Moreover, they themselves would have taken measures. The “disappointed” minister says he can not force the community.
The minister will also investigate whether he can oblige churches and other organizations to file a declaration if they know of child abuse in their circle. He wants to prevent them from handling abuse cases indoors.
Victims of sexual abuse within the closed religious community have been appearing lately. The Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to enter into conversation with the foundation in which victims have united. At least 276 people have already reported abuse.
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