Abuse compensation too little too late

7th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Victims of sexual abuse in the Netherlands by priests in the Catholic church will receive up to 100,000 euros in compensation. The Dutch Bishops' Conference and Dutch Religious Conference have agreed to implement recommendations put forward by the Lindenbergh Commission. But groups representing victims say it's too little, too late.

The Lindenbergh commission, consisting of two professors in private law and two lawyers, investigated the legal aspects of the Roman Catholic church sexual abuse scandal.

The compensation will be awarded to victims regardless of whether their case for compensation has expired. The amount of money they receive will depend on the severity of the abuse. The commission has recommended five possible categories of abuse. There is no opportunity to appeal decisions.

In response to the compensation, victims say they are relieved but think the decision took too long. “We have had to wait until November until we received clarity, ” says Guido Klabbers of Klokk, an umbrella organisation representing 12 groups of victims.

The organisation is concerned how impartial experts appointed to assess the physical and psychological damage among victims will be. The organisation also thinks that compensation for 15 percent of legal costs is too low. In addition, Klokk regrets that there has been little contact with the victims, many of whom are traumatised.

Victims’ organisation Mea Culpa also criticises the decision for coming just one day ahead of the publication of an interim report by the Deetman Commission which is investigating the extent of sexual abuse in Catholic institutions. Bert Smeets who heads Mea Culpa says, “It is as if the bishops want a compliment at the last minute.”

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