Date: Thursday, June 27, 2019
Location: Court of Justice, The Hague, Prins Clauslaan 60
Language: Dutch, Indonesian and Buginese
On Thursday June 27, a special court session will take place in the court in The Hague that is open for public. Several cases are scheduled for that session. First of all, 2 Indonesian victims from Pare-Pare, South Sulawesi, will testify in front of the Dutch court about what they witnessed in 1947. For this occasion both Indonesians will travel all the way to the Netherlands. (Previously they testified via Skype.) The fathers of both persons were executed by the Dutch Special Forces (Korps Speciale Troepen). With the help of the K.U.K.B. foundation, and legally assisted by Dutch human rights lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld and Brechtje Vossenberg, they have been trying to get compensation for the losses they have suffered.
For years now, the K.U.K.B. Foundation and lawyers Zegveld and Vossenberg have successfully filed cases against the State of the Netherlands concerning crimes committed by the Dutch army against Indonesian civilian and non-active combatants during the war of independence in the former Dutch East Indies (1946-1949). Although these cases concern historic injustices, the district court of The Hague has repeatedly held that strict application of the statute of limitations in cases like these is unreasonable and unfair and/or in bad faith.
It has therefore set aside the Dutch State’s defense that these kinds of claims are out of time. This litigation has resulted in public apologies by the Dutch government to widows of men who were summarily executed by its army, compensation for these widows and the opening of an out-of-court settlement scheme for other widows and survivors of mass-executions. The statute of limitations was also set aside in cases filed by a woman who was gang-raped by Dutch soldiers during the violent purge of her village on Java in 1949 and for those suffered by Yaseman, an Indonesian man who was gravely mistreated by Dutch soldiers during his captivity on Java in 1947. After the court found the State liable for the damages suffered by these victims, the Dutch government compensated them both.
Though the State of the Netherlands has accepted a degree of responsibility towards the widows of summarily executed men, it denies justice to other victims of its army’s misconduct. It maintains a general position that claims like these do not warrant setting aside the statute of limitations under Dutch law. In particular, it continues to assert that claims filed by children of summarily executed men are out of time, and in the alternative that the plaintiffs failed to bring their cases within a reasonable period of time after they were factually able to do so. As such, the State is basically telling these people: “you are too late”.
In 2018, the Dutch State filed an interlocutory appeal against a 2015-verdict by the district court in which it had held that the statute of limitations could be set aside in the cases filed by five children of summarily executed men. The State also filed an appeal against the 2018 final verdict that it was liable for the damages of Yaseman. A joint hearing will take place in both cases on Thursday 27 June 2019; two of the child-victims will be flown in from Indonesia to attend this hearing. The lawyers representing the victims will argue i.a. that the verdicts setting aside the limitation periods in cases like these were both legally correct and just.
The day prior to the court session, the government Committee of Foreign Affairs is formally receiving the two guests from Sulawesi in a public meeting.
PS: In case you wish to financially support the travel and accommodation costs of hosting the guests from Indonesia. Make your donation to account number: NL57 RABO 0131 9283 41, at the name of “Stichting K.U.K.B.”, subject: “2019 session”. Thanks in advance!