RTL Nieuws – 6th October 2018
Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to refuse to cooperate with justice: ‘Arrogant contempt for the rule of law’
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.
Steve was abused by Jehovah’s Witness
Steve is one of the victims. He noticed that the church held offenders. “While elders have to take victims to go to the police, that is also in the Bible.
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.
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