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Dutch Ministry would rather pay penalty than share information in due time

It recently became clear that the Dutch Ministry of Health would rather pay a penalty than share information about the controversial face mask deal with former CDA party activist Sywert van Lienden. Dutch news site Nieuwsuur reports that this is no exception. In recent years newspaper De Volkskrant has received, in its own words, 'in the region of 100,000 euros' from Dutch ministries that did not comply with a court ruling.

De Volkskrant says that since 2020, it has been going to court more often because it is so difficult to obtain information from Dutch ministries. Volkskrant journalist Erik Verwiel sees more delaying tactics: ‘At a certain point you think: we’ll just have to be a bit stricter. So since 2020 we’ve filed ten, twenty, maybe fifty lawsuits and have already received tens of thousands of euros in penalties. That's heading towards 100,000 euros’.

The Ministry of Health wants to release the documents requested by De Volkskrant at its own pace, in stages, and says it will release more information in August. ‘The Council of State said at the time that they understood the phased release because of the large amount of documents that had been requested,’ says Wim Voermans, Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law at Leiden University.

‘But this request from De Volkskrant is different. They weren’t requesting all information – it was a very specific request. The cynical thing is that the minister said: we’re following our own planning, because we can do that in the Nieuwsuur case. But by doing so, they’re flouting a court ruling’.

Full article available here (in Dutch)

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