Victims in childcare allowance affair sue five gov't officials
At least 20 victims in the childcare allowance scandal is filing charges against five Ministers and former Ministers for their role in this affair. They are accusing the government officials of committing an official crime and gross negligence, lawyer Vasco Groeneveld, who is representing the victims, said to broadcaster NOS.
In the childcare allowance affair, hundreds of parents ended up in serious financial problems after the Tax Authority wrongly labeled them fraudsters and ordered them to repay their childcare allowance. In some cases this involved tens of thousands of euros. A parliamentary committee of inquiry recently concluded that these parents faced "unprecedented injustice". And before that National Ombudsman said that the Tax Authority put hundreds of families in an impossible situation. And the Children's Ombudsman accused the Tax Authority of ignoring children's rights.
The charges are directed at current Ministers Tamara van Ark for Medical Care, Wopke Hoekstra of Finance, and Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs, as well as resigned State Secretary Menno Snel of Finance, and former Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs and Employment. The charges were field with the Attorney General of the Supreme Court as they involve government officials.
According to Groeneveld, the Ministers were aware or should have been aware of the irregularities at the Tax Authority. Because they took no action, they are guilty of gross negligence, he said to the broadcaster. A number of "good governance" principles were neglected, including that of fair play which states the government can't be biased, and due diligence. As a result, the Tax Authority was able to discriminate against these parents, violating Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Last week, the Public Prosecution Service said that it will not launch a criminal investigation in this affair. With these charges, the victimized parents would like to force it. "The rule of law has fallen to its foundations," Groeneveld said.
The lawyer can't say how likely this procedure is to succeed, because there are no known successful precedents. But it is important for the parents to make clear what the standard is, Groeneveld said. "That standard has been violated to such an extent that it must be viewed from a criminal law perspective."