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Additional Submission of the Dutch NGO Coalition on the Rights of the Child

for the session Netherlands CRC on Wednesday 27 May 2015


Supplement to the 4th NGO report of the Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights Update 2014
April 2015
Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure still to be ratified
The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights urges the government to ratify the third protocol to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure as soon as possible.
Additionally, the Dutch Coalition for Childrens Rights recommends the government to withdraw the
reservations regarding Articles 26, 37 sub c and 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
(hereinafter: CRC).
The central government is and continues to be responsible for upholding the rights of children
Since the 1st of January 2015, the youth care system has been decentralised, moving the primary
responsibility for youth care from the national and provincial government to the municipalities.
However, the implementation of the CRC is never the sole responsibility of municipalities. It continues
to be the responsibility of the central government. The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights
remains concerned about the absence of a clear national mechanism responsible for the overall
horizontal and vertical coordination of the Conventions implementation.
When the Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights asks the Ministers, Secretaries of State and their
policy makers responsible on central level, about their responsibilities on outcomes for children, the
coalition is structurally referred to the more than 400 responsible mayors on the municipal level. The
Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights calls upon the responsible Secretary of State to provide more
clarity on the interpretation of the national coordination of the Conventions implementation,
especially on overall vertical coordination.
In the government answers to the questions presented in the List of Issues, the government points out
that with the new Youth Services Act, the government wishes to achieve more scope for professionals
and less bureaucracy for youth care providers. However, in the first months of 2015, the Dutch NGO
Coalition for Children's Rights observed a higher administrative burden for youth care providers. For
example, the national youth care provider William Schrikker Group estimated that they spend
approximately 1.5 million euros more on bureaucracy than before the decentralisation of youth care.1
Furthermore, cutbacks and reorganisations at youth care providers resulted in a reduction of staff. The
coalition has received concerns from youth care professionals about an increasing workload and a
decrease in quality of care.
Youth care
In the first months of 2015, the Monitor Youth System Transition-hotline (in Dutch: Meldpunt Monitor
Transitie Jeugd), which collects signals about the changes in the field of youth care, received more than
a hundred signals from children and their parents about the youth care system. Most of these signals
concern a lack of information, ambiguity about where people should go with their request for help
(people are often referred from one party to another and it often takes a long time before people
actually receive help), personal health budgets (people still have not received any decision about their
personal health budgets and for most of them the budget they will receive in 2015 is still unclear) and
privacy (in particular regarding the exchange of medical data).
Furthermore, the Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights is concerned about the fact that the
decentralization of government tasks in the protection and care for children leads to legal inequality
with regard to the access and quality of youth care. Within the new system, the local authority has
1

Erik Heijdelberg, William Schrikker Groep, interview on NPO Radio 1, available at:
http://nos.nl/artikel/2027656-1-5-miljoen-gaat-naar-bureaucratie-en-niet-naar-zorg.html.

discretionary power to develop and implement youth care in its own municipality. This means that the
availability and access to youth care services within a municipality depends on the choices made at the
municipal level. The Transition Authority, the Childrens ombudsman and the Association of
Netherlands Municipalities (in Dutch: VNG) are concerned that the community teams responsible for
implementation of youth care services are still developing: their roles and responsibilities are unclear
and there is a lack of expertise. In addition, the procurement of youth care services is still insufficiently
based on knowledge and there is a lack of information on youth and their problems in municipalities.
The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights is concerned about the provision in the new Youth
Services Act that limits the access to youth services for undocumented children. The Coalition urges
the government to abolish this distinction as soon as possible since it is in breach of Article 2 of the
CRC. Children without legal residence in the Netherlands only have access to youth care services for a
maximum of 6 months. Furthermore, youth care services will be stopped when these children reach
the age of 18 years. Another worrying fact is the implementation of another threshold to place these
children in foster care since a decision to place them in foster care has to be motivated in more detail.
According to article 20 of the CRC, states have to provide children deprived of their family environment
with special care and ensure that they are properly looked after. A high threshold to place children in
foster care is in breach of article 20.
Child Abuse
The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights would like to know how the government fulfils its
responsibility to prevent and combat child abuse in the Netherlands in practice. It is unclear whether
it is the governments responsibility to minimise the amount of children that suffer from violence, to
provide appropriate assistance for abused victims that ends the violence and to provide care to
promote recovery. According to the Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights, solely monitoring
output is insufficient. The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights recommends the government to
also monitor the outcomes for children.
Figures from recent research on the approach of domestic violence in the four major cities in the
Netherlands are alarming: 60% of the children have not received any help after they have witnessed
severe domestic violence between their parents, while a third of the children has developed a posttraumatic stress disorder.2 The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights has no insight into what
action the government is taking to improve this situation. The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's
Rights is not convinced that municipalities are able to organize all necessary assistance to child victims
of abuse and calls on the central government to monitor this.
As a result of the decentralisation new organisations were created for receiving reports of child abuse
in each region (26 in total). These organisations exist on paper, but their contents are still developing.
The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights is still has not allowed insight in the progress, quality
and effects. This is alarming because these reporting centres and the quality of their work are crucial
for the safety of children.
Municipalities have received several new tasks since 2015, including the duty to guarantee the safety
of children in care institutions. The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights doubts whether the
development of a safety policy in youth care institutions will be a priority for municipalities, considering
the multitude of their new responsibilities. The report published in 2012 by the Commission Samson,
an independent committee that has done research on the sexual abuse of children in care, has made
it painfully clear that the safety in institutions is an urgent ongoing problem. The research of the
Commission Samson has showed that children who are taken into care by a child protection order from

B. Tierolf, K. Lnneman and M. Steketee May 2014, Doorbreken geweldspatroon vraagt gespecialiseerde
hulp: Onderzoek naar effectiviteit van de aanpak huiselijk geweld in de G4, May 2014, available at:
http://www.verweyjonker.nl/doc/vitaliteit/1366_Doorbreken%20geweldspatroon%20vraagd%20gespecialiseerde%20hulp_Web.p
df, p. 101.

1945 onwards, have not always been protected against sexual abuse. The government, institutions
and foster care have failed to protect them.
The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights is also concerned about the national capacity to shelter
parents and children who are victims of domestic violence. A quick scan of the Federation Opvang
shows that a part of the central municipalities do not follow the agreements that have been made by
the Association of Dutch Municipalities. As a result, the number of shelter places is declining.3
Moreover, the assistance to children in shelters is seriously threatened by budget cuts, while in
previous years budget investments have been made in methodology development and training. The
Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights is worried about this trend change.
Poverty
The amount of children that grow up in poverty in the European part of the Kingdom of the
Netherlands has increased in 2013, according to the Poverty description 2014 (in Dutch: Armoede
signalement 2014). The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights would like to know what the national
government, in cooperation with the local government, will do to ensure a sufficient standard of living
for all children in the Netherlands.
The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights is also concerned about the reduction of the norm for
social security (in Dutch: bijstandsnorm) for single parents since 2015. Although the child budget (in
Dutch: Kindgebonden budget) which parents are entitled to until their child reaches the age of 18 will
increase, this raise will not balance out the decrease of the norm for social security. In the end, parents
will receive less money.
In 2015, the Government introduced the so-called single-parent cap, an addition to the tax-related
child benefits. Single parents who receive emergency benefits receive this cap because their
emergency benefits have been cut down. However, this compensation is not granted to all single
parents. Tax laws have different restrictions on who is labelled as a single parent. This means that, for
example, single mothers who are not officially divorced (often for cultural or religious reasons) do not
receive the cap and are forced to live with their children below the minimum standard of living in the
Netherlands. The same goes for families that consist of one person without a residence status. They
do not receive any tax related benefits at all, even if all the other family members including the
children, hold the Dutch nationality.
Children in migration law
It is interesting to note that in the answers of the government to the questions in the List of Issues an
answer to question 14 is absent. The question is: Please indicate how the best interest of the child
are ensured at every stage of the asylum procedure and whether all relevant authorities are provided
with expertise on the best interests determination?. The lack of an individual assessment of the best
interests of the child (article 3 CRC) is still one of the main issues of the Committee with regard to the
Dutch migration policy.
Family reunification
On 3 October 2014, the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter: the Court) ruled in the case
Jeunesse v. The Netherlands that the Dutch Government had acted contrary to article 8 of the
Convention, since there had been inadequate attention for the best interests of the three children, all
in the possession of the Dutch nationality, whilst refusing to provide a residence permit to the mother
of the children. According to Jeunesse, the best interests of the child should explicitly be weighed in
the Dutch family reunification policy. The State Secretary of Security and Justice pointed out that
Jeunesse contains several points of interests. However, there are no reasons to change the policy. The
State Secretary of Security and Justice to change and disclose the Handbook for the Immigration and
Naturalisation Service concerning article 8 of the Convention. The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's
3

Letter from the Federation Welfare to the State Secretary Van Rijn, concerning the distribution model for
women, 17-04- 2015.

Rights calls for the government to change the policy concerning family reunification with regard to
Jeunesse. As has been emphasized by the Court, national authorities must explicitly focus on the
feasibility, the attainability and the proportionality of a removal to another country for children in
family reunification cases.
Reception of unaccompanied minors
In the answers to the questions of the List of Issues, it has been mentioned that large-scale reception
facilities for unaccompanied minors will be closed from 2016 onward. Instead of the large-scale
reception facilities, a new reception model will be build. The Committee points out that there are
questions concerning these new receptions models, since a distinction has been made on the basis of
age. Children below fifteen will be accommodated in foster homes and children above fifteen in
reception facilities containing 16-20 beds. With regard to the development of the latter, it might be
better to live in foster homes. However, this possibility no longer remains. The Dutch NGO Coalition
for Children's Rights is of the opinion that the current reception facilities should be closed instantly
and the children should be accommodated in foster homes.
The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights hopes that the individual, emotional development of
children will play a role in the organisation of the new reception facilities. Therefore, it is of the utmost
importance that the staff of the new reception facilities is educated in the specific problems of this
group of children. Currently, there remain doubts whether the staff is adequately equipped for the
reception of this group of children.
Long-term residence as ground for a permit
In the answers to the List of Issues, the Dutch Government contends that the Transition rule of the
Child Pardon provides clarity to children who have stayed in the Netherlands for a long period.
However, there are still children excluded from the Transition rule, although they have remained in
the Netherlands for over five years. One of the reasons is that these children have never applied for
asylum. This exclusion is unjustifiable in light of the CRC. The High Commissioner for Human Rights of
the Council of Europe, Nils Muinieks, has criticized the criteria which children have to meet in order
to be eligible for the Child Pardon.4
In 2014, 520 applications for children who have been in the Netherlands for over five years have been
submitted under the final regulation for long-term resident children. Only ten have been granted. The
regulation does not seem to meet its goal, i.e. providing a solution for children rooted in the
Netherlands.
Abolition of the permit for unaccompanied minors
Although the goal of the abolition of the permit for unaccompanied minors was to prevent
unaccompanied minors from disappearing in illegality and to provide clarity, a huge part of this group
remains in the Netherlands without any perspective.
Repatriation and removal
In the answers to the List of Issues, the government contends that imprisonment of aliens in cases of
forced return is only used as ultimum remedium. This statement should be nuanced. In September
2014, a new family location has been opened in Zeist. Families and children and unaccompanied
minors who have to leave the Netherlands can be placed in this detention centre if, according to the
government, there is a risk to hide from the supervision of the government. Currently, the possibility
to place families with children and unaccompanied minors in the Closed Family locations is not used
as ultimum remedium and inadequate attention is being paid to the best interests of the child. In this
4

Report High Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, October 2014, available at:
https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=2244481&Site=COE.

regard, it is worth noting that the Regional Court has ruled three times that attention must be paid to
the best interests of the child in case of the placement of families with children in detention centres.

Education
Quality of education
According to research from the Dutch Inspectorate of Education, there is a positive development in
the Teacher Education for primary schools (PABO). Recent graduates obtained more professional
knowledge than their predecessors. However, graduates point out that they have insufficient
knowledge on how to teach children that are more advanced or children who fall behind in their study
schedule. The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights raises its concerns, being aware of the fact
that teachers will encounter these groups more often, since the implementation of the program
Appropriate Education (in Dutch: passend onderwijs). Furthermore, teachers are having difficulties
with the question on how to make subjects like discrimination and radicalization open to discussion in
class. These difficulties experienced by teachers became even more relevant after the recent assault
on the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
Education on childrens rights
Education on childrens rights and human rights can play an important role in the improvement of the
quality of education. At this moment, a committee (Commissie 2032) is investigating the upcoming
reform of the schools curriculum. The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights emphasizes the
importance of child rights education as a compulsory part in the reform. The Dutch government has
responded unwillingly to this proposal. In a recent publication it was shown that the Netherlands
compared to 25 other countries, scores very low on the education of childrens rights.
Social security and bullying
The government recently adopted the law Social security at school (in Dutch: de wet Sociale veiligheid
op school), which ensures, for primary and secondary education, a set of obligations on the subjects
of social security and the tackling of bullying. According to a study from the School and Safety Centre
(in Dutch: Centrum School en Veiligheid), students of the Teacher Education for primary schools (in
Dutch: PABO) are not sufficiently prepared for dealing with social security in general, and more
specifically with tackling issues such as bullying, sexuality, and sexual diversity. The minister will
cooperate with the Teacher Education Programs and with the foundation for school and security in
order to strengthen the approach for social security. Given that not only the students, but also current
teachers will need tools to ensure the social security for children, the Dutch NGO Coalition for
Children's Rights would like to know how the current professionals will be supported in this.
Suitable education for children with severe multiple disabilities
The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights is deeply concerned about access to suitable education
for children with severe multiple disabilities. Standard education budgets seem insufficient to take care
of these childrens specific needs at school, such as assistance with medical care or personal hygiene.
When additional care is needed, special interests groups too often notice that health insurance
companies, municipalities and schools fail to agree upon who is responsible for the costs. As per
January 1st 2015, the Exceptional Medical Expenses Act (AWBZ) no longer applies. Children with severe
multiple disabilities now fall under the scope of the Healthcare Insurance Act (Zorgverzekeringswet),
the Youth Services Act (Jeugdwet) and the Long-Term Care Act (Wet langdurige zorg). Ever since the
introduction of the law on appropriate education (Passend onderwijs), schools no longer get to claim
compensation resources for the children discussed, directly. Instead, schools first have to negotiate
with the cooperation of schoolboards in their region. Although the government pledged to reverse
some aspects of this procedure, it has yet to be seen whether this will actually improve the current
situation. In turn, parents of children under the Long-Term Care Act, have to negotiate with schools
about financial coverage of their childrens needs at school. When school and the aforementioned
parties fail to reach consensus, the child eventually pays the price. After all, when financial resources
are unavailable or inaccessible, the school might see no other option but to cease the childs education.

Taking into account, as a rule, the lack of suitable alternatives within a 50 km range, this constitutes a
severe problem for both child and parents.
Sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
In January 2015, the Parliament discussed the issue of surrogacy. The Socialist Party posed several
questions about the lack of criminalization of the sale of children in the Dutch Criminal Law.
Unfortunately, the State Secretary of Security and Justice dismissed these questions by replying that it
would not be so simple to criminalize the sale of children. The Dutch NGO Coalition for Children's Rights
urges the government to investigate whether and how the sale of children could be criminalized in the
Netherlands. A first step in this direction has been set because the Minister of Security and Justice
announced that the possibilities to criminalize the sale of children will be explored again.5
Loverboy problems
In May 2012, a government-wide comprehensive Action Plan for the victims of loverboys (in Dutch:
Handreiking Aanpak Loverboyproblematiek) has been published. In December 2014, the Commission
Azough, installed to address the issue of victims of loverboys, argued (again) for an integral approach
focussed on prevention, identification and support for victims of loverboys. The Dutch NGO Coalition
for Children's Rights would like to know what the government is going to do with this repeated advice
and how much budget is allocated to make a significant change. It should be noted that the Action Plan
again isnt again holistic, in the sense that it does not address all other forms of exploitation of children
nor includes foreign victims of loverboys and sexual exploitation.

Minister of Security and Justice, Letter to the Dutch Parliament on surrogacy, 13 April 2015, available at:
http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten-en-publicaties/kamerstukken/2015/04/14/tk-draagmoederschaptekst-rijksoverheidnl-en-uitkomsten-gesprek-openbaar-ministerie.html.