Justice Min. under fire in Brussels attack debate

Ard van der Steur (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/VVD/Matthijs Idema)Ard van der Steur (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/VVD/Matthijs Idema)

Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice is facing a lot of heat from opposition parties in the parliamentary debate on the Brussels bombings. The opposition wants to know if he is still in control of his Ministry and whether he is part of the problem or part of the solution.

PVV leader Geert Wilders got the first chance to have his say, according to AD's live blog on the debate. "Today we have a Minister of Security and Justice that is making a mess of it. He does not know the difference between the FBI and the New York Police. He has no idea whether a terrorist suspect is still in the Netherlands or not. He doesn't open any messages from the Turkey security services, even if 'very urgent' is written on it", Wilders said. According to him, the terrorist attacks in Brussels could have been prevented if Van der Steur took action.

Wilders actually only has one question, he said. "Is it not time to resign?" He added that if Van der Steur continues as Minister, he will do so under supervision.

CDA leader Sybrand Buma demanded that Van der Steur only gives clear answers in the debate today. He stated that he does not doubt the Minister's commitment, but he wonders whether Van der Steur did too little to prevent terrorism. "His mistake is that he made no firm commitments about jihadists, not that he forgot to open a message from the Turkish authorities", he said.

SP leader Emile Roemer wants to know whether Van der Steur is "part of the solution or part of the problem". "Can he get the Ministry into order? Can he make sure that the Kamer is well informed, and how will he do that?" He emphasized that these questions should be answered clearly, because he doesn't want a fourth debate on the issue.

D66 leader Alexander Pechtold pointed out that it took 234 parliamentary questions to get clarification from Van der Steur. "We face a minister who more than ten times said: 'I do not know'. Mistakes are human, but are lessons learned from them?" He also wants to know why there are no agreements with Turkey about jihadists and why there is no contact with the Turkish authorities.

"This is not the first time we're talking about the functioning of this Minister", DENK parliamentarian Tunahan Kuzu said. "Where are these errors coming from? Does he still have a grip on his officials? The Minister must quickly prove that he is the right man in the right place."

"He himself did nothing wrong, the fault lies with others. But couldn't and shouldn't the minister have done more", GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver asked. He wants to know how Ibrahim El Bakraoui could decide that he wanted to be deported to the Netherlands, instead his own country of Belgium.