Council of State rejects request to disclose MH17 documents

Schiphol Airport Amsterdam memorial MH17
Flowers left at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in honor of the 298 people killed aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. 20 July 2014Roman Boed / Wikimedia Commons

The Ministry of Security and Justice does not have to disclose information about how it handled the direct aftermath of the MH17 disaster, the Council of State ruled on Wednesday. This involves reports of meetings held by various ministers after the Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014. In the weeks after the disaster, ministers regularly met in a crisis committee to discuss the aftermath, reports.

Dutch news agencies NOS, Volkskrant and RTL Nieuws tried to get more information about the aftermath of MH17 by appealing to the Freedom of Information Act. They wanted to reconstruct the government's policy after the disaster. The Ministry of Security and Justice did release some of the documents, but large pieces of the documents were blacked out. The three news agencies therefore teamed up and took the matter to court.

In February the Midden-Nederland court ruled that these reports should be made public. The Ministry of Security and Justice appealed, arguing that the disclosure of confidential consultation could be harmful to the Netherlands' relationship with other countries. 

According to the Council of State, it is necessary that the information remains confidential, as it is likely that disclosure thereof could jeopardize the proper functioning of the committee. The Council found this more important than the interest of disclosure. "The interest of disclosure does not outweigh the interest protected by the refusal, such as the relations of the Netherlands with other states and international organizations, respect for the privacy of the parties involved and the protection of personal policy views", the Council ruled. 

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17th, 2014. All 298 people on board were killed, including 193 Dutch.