Report: Whistleblowers punished, bullied at Justice Ministry

Ard van der Steur (Photo: Commons)Ard van der Steur (Photo: Commons)

Whistleblowers at the Ministry of Security and Justice "would be crazy" to report internal irregularities, because all they will get in return is to be bullied an punished, Sjaak Jansen, former Integrity Confidant at the Ministry, said to NRC. According to him, everything at the Ministry is aimed at keeping their own slate clean.

The role of Integrity Confidant is embedded in the law. Justice officials who want to report abuses, leaks or other unethical behavior without getting into trouble, go to the confidant.

"My experience is that punitive expeditions were instituted against officials who made reports. The first thing they did at the ministry is deny everything, then they wipe it away. Everything was aimed at keeping the blazon clean. Reporters of abuses were not promoted or were given tedious work", Jansen said to NRC. "People were laid off because they supposedly stole an old printer, which turns out not to be true. Many larger offenses were meanwhile covered with the cloak of charity."

Jansen's statements coincide with Minister Ard van der Steur's new order to the Oosting-committee to find out whether there was a cover-up regarding the receipt in the so-called Teeven-deal - the deal former Justice State Secretary Fred Teeven made with drug criminal Ceesh H. when he was still a prosecutor. According to NRC, Van der Steur wrote to the Tweede Kamer last week that any officials who want to give information on the Teeven-deal will enjoy the same protection as under the whistleblower regulation. Based on Jansen's statements, this does not seem like a good deal.

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, is demanding that Van der Steur gives clarification on this matter before 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, NU reports. The VVD, PvdA, SP, CDA, PVV, D66 and ChristenUnie all want to know if there is any truth to Jansen's statements.

"What is going on in the Ministry?" SP parliamentarian Michiel van Nispen wants to know. According to the SP, whistleblowers must be given full protection when they expose abuses. "Otherwise you will never know the truth."

"A culture in which mistakes and abuses can not be reported is not permissible", according to CDA MP Madeleine van Toorenburg. The D66 wants to know if their is any truth in Jansen's statements about class justice and whistleblowers being fired for stealing printers, only to later turn out that this was not true. "Is the leadership really inventing crimes against whistleblowers?" asked Sjoerd Sjoerdsma. "It seems that those who struggle for the truth with Security and Justice are practically outlawed."