Scientists will soon be able to report threats of violence more easily
Robbert Dijkgraaf, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, wants to do more to protect scientists who face threats of violence and abuse. He revealed that the association representing higher education in the country, Universities of the Netherlands (UNL), is working on a hotline where scientists can report those issues, such as PersVeilig, the reporting point for members of the news media.
"Scientists must be able to carry out their work safely, and feel free to discuss this with society," said Dijkgraaf. Where journalists can turn to persveilig.nl when they are threatened, wetenschapveilig.nl is expected to become a similar reporting point for scientists. The minister called it an important initiative by UNL.
The information and reporting point will likely be set up after the summer, Dijkgraaf explained in an interview in AD. "That means that there will be a website, that there will be points of contact, a registration number, but also more research into how we safeguard these scientists." The minister will also raise the issue internationally.
The minister said in the newspaper interview that it is painful to him that a number of scientists who "have given everything" to keep society healthy are now being threatened. He said he believes too little attention has been paid to the safety of scientists. As an example, he pointed to prominent Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst, who was visited at home by someone armed with a rocket launcher.
Last month, the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights also argued that scientists and other experts who appear in the media should receive better protection. In its annual report for 2021, the organization concluded that participation in the public debate is becoming increasingly unsafe.
Reporting by ANP