Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Criticism from Dutch civil servants about the Government's stance on war in Middle East

Two open letters are currently circulating among civil servants in the Netherlands calling for the Dutch government to take a different stance towards Israel. Wim Voermans, Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law in Leiden, says in a national radio broadcast that this is an unusual and unique situation.

One letter is from civil servants at various ministries, who feel complicit in the situation and, therefore, in the victims there. The second letter from civil servants at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accuses their own ministry of selectively responding to the issue.

'Civil servants are usually loyal to their minister,' Voermans says. ‘Like everyone else, civil servants have fundamental rights and thus the right to express a free opinion. However, there is a limit - namely that your opinion must relate well to your own functioning. Your expression of opinion must not undermine the functioning of the public service and in such a case could lead to dismissal’, Voermans explains in the radio broadcast.

Voermans: 'It is rare for civil servants as a group to voice criticism. A similar situation occurred in the 1980s when a group of 80 Ministry of Defence soldiers demonstrated against nuclear weapons'. He believes that this should also be possible in a relaxed democratic constitutional state. ‘Civil servants are also allowed to tweet, for example.’

Listen to the full NPO radio 1 fragment (in Dutch)

Photo by Jordy Meow on Unsplash

This website uses cookies.  More information.