Wednesday, 6 May 2015 - 10:14
Family of missing persons need more assistance
Family members of missing people often struggle with serious practical and financial difficulties because they cannot act on behalf of their missing family member. These family members, Slachtofferhulp Nederland and the Vereniging Achterblijvers na Vermissing are therefore advocating for missing persons to be given a separate legal status. Every year Slachtofferhulp deals with about 150 cases of Dutch people that have been missing for an extended period of time, the Volkskrant reports. Their relatives struggle with bureaucratic problems because banks and government agencies do not have a protocol for dealing with someone who has disappeared, but hasn't been declared deceased. "Under the law you are alive or deceased." Spokesperson Harriet Koelewijn said to the newspaper. "That seems logical, but it causes many practical problems. A separate legal status for missing persons would solve this." These left behind family members face bureaucratic nightmares like health insurance and subscriptions that can not be cancelled without the signature of the missing person. Or a house that can not be sold. Or an employer dismissing the missing person for not showing up, leaving a family without income. Henry de Vries disappeared in 2013. His body was found 8 months later in the water in Zeewolde. The police believe he committed suicide. Last month his 22 year old daughter, Inger de Vries, started an online petition to get a separate legal status for missing persons. "My father's employer froze his salary one month after his disappearance. Because of that my stepmother was suddenly left with zero euros per month, while she had two small children to care for. There are arrangements for relatives for someone who dies, but if someone goes missing, there's nothing." she said to the Volkskrant. De Vries needs 40 thousand signatures to get the separate status for missing persons on the agenda of the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament. The petition can be signed here.