Netherlands liable for rape of woman in Dutch East-Indies; State must allow investigation in Dutch National Archives

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Amsterdam, 27 January 2016 – Today, the District Court of The Hague handed down three verdicts in cases concerning alleged unlawful acts of soldiers in the Dutch army in the former Dutch East-Indies in the period 1946-1949.

The surviving relatives and victims are represented by lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld and Brechtje Vossenberg.

The first verdict concerns summary executions. It is a follow-up to the interlocutory verdict  of 11 March 2015, in which the District Court of The Hague held that the Dutch State is liable for the damage of both the widows and the children of men who were summarily executed by the Dutch army in the former Dutch East-Indies. Today, the District Court appointed an expert in those cases, namely the Australian historian Robert Cribb. Cribb is fluent in Dutch and is specialized in the Indonesian war of independence. The District Court has assigned him the task of researching the evidentiary issues in the cases concerning the unlawful executions on South-Sulawesi in 1946 and 1947.  In that regard, he may also conduct research in the Dutch National Archives in The Hague. The District Court has also ordered the Dutch State to submit its own research and findings with regard to each widow/child to the court.

In second verdict, the District Court held that a then 18-year old Indonesian woman who was gang-raped by five Dutch soldiers during the purging of the Javanese village Peniwen on 19 February 1949 is entitled to €7,500 in immaterial damages.

The third verdict was handed down in the case concerning the torture of an Indonesian man by the Dutch army during his captivity in 1947. The District Court has ordered the State to clarify and substantiate its contestation of the facts. In particular, the State must inform the court of the investigation it conducted into the captivity and torture, and the results thereof.  Insofar as the State has not yet investigated these points, the District Court orders it to do so.

Just like in the cases concerning the summary executions, the District Court has rejected the State’s argument that the claims in the rape- and torture cases were time-barred.

Read the press release of the District Court here  (available in Dutch).

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