WASHINGTON, April 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Lucas Hartong, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, met last week with human rights students at Georgetown Law School, organized by the student President Stephanie Redfield, to discuss charges of child sex abuse against the former Secretary General of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and the lack of an official investigation into these charges by the government of the Netherlands.
MEP Hartong explained how he became involved in the Demmink case after Christian Ehlers, the Chair of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with the United States, received a letter from U.S. Representatives Joseph Pitts (R-PA), Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), suggesting that the Netherlands was at risk of becoming a "weak link" in the global fight against child sexual abuse due to the lack of a formal investigation into the charges against Mr. Demmink.
Upon further inquiries, Mr. Hartong learned that any investigation of Mr. Demmink's behavior in Turkey, where two of the victims have filed charges of sex abuse, rests on the determination of the dates that Demmink was in Turkey. The Dutch government and the Netherlands Embassy in the U.S. have repeatedly claimed that all documentation during the time in question was burned in a fire, and that no records remain.
This January, Mr. Hartong brought written questions to the floor of the European Parliament in an attempt to get the dates of Mr. Demmink's travel to Turkey. The parliamentary procedure called "tabling" is a formal request for information and requires a written response from the EP in three weeks. Months passed, with no response. In February, Mr. Hartong was informed that his questions would be discussed at a meeting of the General Affairs Council of the Council of Ministers that is comprised of 27 member states. Mr. Hartong was invited to the discussion. However, upon his arrival at the meeting, he was summarily threatened by arrest and escorted out. Last week, Mr. Hartong received an oddly worded response to his questions that failed to provide any travel information about Mr. Demmink and Turkey.
The Georgetown Law students who have been preparing petitions to file in Europe and in the U.S. concerning the Demmink case were outraged by what they heard. Students asked if the Dutch people were tolerant of child sex abuse and if the Dutch media were writing stories condemning the lack of transparency in this case. Comparisons were made between Penn State's Jerry Sandusky with an initial cover-up but then U.S. media outrage. Hartong responded by saying that the Dutch do not condone child sex abuse, but that the accusations against Demmink first surfaced in 1998 when there was some initial media attention. When an official investigation stalled, press interest subsequently eroded.
Following Hartong's presentation, the law students promised to continue work on their petitions and to press action in Congress. Hartong reminded the students that Mr. Demmink was innocent until proven guilty, but he urged the students to press the U.S. Congress for letters and hearings to keep the pressure on the Netherlands to initiate an independent, formal investigation.
Mr. Hartong told the students he was just a simple politician seeking the truth. Upon hearing this remark "a politician seeking the truth" the student's enthusiasm seemed to increase. The human rights law students promised to work closely with Kwame Fosu, the Georgetown Law alumnus and Director for International Policy at the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, to finalize the petitions seeking the truth.
For more information on the criminal complaints against Dutch Justice Ministry Secretary-General Joris Demmink, please visit www.InvestigateDemmink.com.
The Rebecca Project for Human Rights (RPHR) is a transformational organization that advocates for justice, dignity, and reform for vulnerable women and girls in the United States and Africa. For more information, please visit: http://www.rebeccaproject.org/index.php
Contact: Darren Spinck (202-669-4418/Darren@gscgrouppr.com)
SOURCE Rebecca Project for Human Rights