Handle abuse in the Binnenhof right now

MP Dion Gross (PVV) is under fire. His ex-wife and party member accused him of inciting prostitution, and a preliminary judicial investigation is underway; Another party employee would have accused him of sexual misconduct in front of the Speaker of the House and a secret counsel. Two former PVV employees had resigned because they felt sexual intimidation.

These are messages from Norwegian Refugee Council Over the past few weeks, they are a major concern to us. Messages too, which also receive very little follow-up in the Binnenhof.

It was logical that Wilders, the leader of the Freedom Party, who is responsible for the group, would open an investigation, but he refused. This week, Grouse finally announced an independent investigation of himself. It is true that there is an investigation. If there is no investigation and the accusations are ignored, people feel insecure. A person is not guilty until proven guilty.

The announcement of this investigation has been long overdue. Meanwhile, it has become painfully clear how complicated it is legally when MPs are accused of misconduct. As a good business owner, the faction can initiate an investigation, but it cannot force the MP to give up his seat. The head of the house tied hands and feet. What should be changed?

Tightening the rules of conduct

Since April, the House of Representatives has adopted a new procedure, a stricter code of conduct and a integrity investigation board. The members of this Committee may advise suspending a Member of Parliament for a maximum period of one month – subject to the approval of the majority of the members of the House. These new procedures are a good step forward. However: Accidents that occurred before the entry into force of this regulation are not covered. Moreover, the recent course of events gives ample reason to examine whether these new measures are sufficient.

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It is worth looking across the border. After all, there are a lot of examples of how to do this. In 2014, for example, a staff member of the European Parliament maintained a code of cross-border behavior by MEPs. Soon, dozens of other employees posted their experiences anonymously.

Read also: Representatives are not free boys, set the rules of conduct

This MeToo movement in the European Parliament has brought some serious improvements. The European Parliament now has an independent advisory committee that deals with complaints of harassment or abuse, and can conduct internal investigations and advise the president on possible sanctions against the MP in question.

Parliamentarians and staff in the European Parliament also receive intimidation awareness training for several years, just as in the United States and Canada. Such trainings, information about undesirable behavior and a structural interest in the paths you can take as a victim, can also contribute to raising awareness and openness in the Netherlands. Thus, a safer working environment.

In the UK, infringing behaviour, including sexual harassment, is explicitly mentioned in a new code of conduct. This makes it easier to clarify the rule for parliamentarians and to impose potential ramifications. It would be a good idea to check if the rules of undesirable behavior should be made more explicit in the Dutch Code of Conduct.

negative poll

Another disadvantage of the Dutch situation is the lack of consequences when a member of Parliament is convicted by a judge. In such cases, members of Parliament in Curaçao and the United Kingdom, among other countries, lose the so-called passive suffrage, the right to be elected to Parliament. On the other hand, Dutch parliamentarians retain their seats. It must be different.

Harassment and abuse come in all walks of life, political colors and unfortunately at all times. But what is not at this time is looking away, raising barriers to report or not even responding to it. As Parliament, we must show that sexual assault and intimidation are unacceptable. It starts with realizing there is a problem – and working to solve it. We have this duty to everyone in the Binnenhof, but above all this happens to everyone.

Leave current coverage a wake cry The Dutch parliament should take it seriously.

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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