Chief Officer of Justice concerned about rising number of threats against public figures
Chief Officer of Justice, Michiel Zwinkels, said in an interview with NU.nl that he is concerned about the number of intimation threats coming from conspiracy theorists. Last year, the number of intimidation threats rose nearly three-fold from 15 to 43, according to Zwinkels.
"Activists keep going further, due to which people are increasingly often harassed at home. In the Netherlands, everyone can speak their mind, there is freedom of speech, the right to demonstrate that naturally, is very important during this time. But if that spills over into insults, threats and inciting violence and intimidation then, you step over a line," Zwinkels said. The chief officer of justice said people can get pulled down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories on social media, such as on Telegram chat groups.
"It is important that we say in society: till here and not further," Zwinkels said. Politicians, such as former Health Minister Hugo de Jonge and current Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigrid Kaag, have had people show up to their homes in an attempt to threaten them.
This week, Max van den B. was sentenced to six months in prison for showing up at the Kaag's home while waving a burning torch. His accomplice, Eline van 't N., who filmed the incident was sentenced to four months in prison. Van den B. said he would change nothing about his actions in court.
"We have to be vigilant," Zwinkels said. The Chief of Justice said a bill is currently in progress to criminalize the distribution of addresses to harass the resident. "You also see that politicians, scientists and journalists that receive threats at their home are afraid to speak out during a debate. Democracy and the rule of law are undermined. That is disastrous for our society," Zwinkels said.