Verdonk's claims for more protection rejected
Dutch justice minister rejects MP Rita Verdonk’s claims for more protection and says her security will be further cut in the summer if there is no increase threat.6 June 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - In an emergency debate in parliament, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin said that if there is no increased threat to MP Rita Verdonk her security will be further cut back further in the summer.
Her level of protection has been reduced, as the threat to her is now less than it was when she was serving as a minister. Hirsch Ballin said the security provision would only be reconsidered if the threat tangibly increases.
The justice minister emphasised that for more than a year Verdonk has been provided with more protection than necessary, and other MPs in the same situation would receive no security provision at all.
Verdonk disagrees with this assessment and has cancelled a promotional tour for her party Proud of the Netherlands because concerns about her personal safety.
She has submitted a list of security incidents to the Justice Ministry which she claims indicate that she needs a greater level of protection, but according to the minister they have already been taken into consideration in the analysis. National Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Tjibbe Joustra says the cancellation is unwarranted.
A large majority in parliament accepted Mr Hirsch Ballin's explanation. Geert Wilders' right-wing populist Freedom Party called on the minister to reconsider the decision, but received insufficient support from MPs. Wilders is himself under constant security protection due to threats to his life.
Some MPs criticised Verdonk because she left the chamber before the debate was over in order to attend a television interview. It was in a television programme on Wednesday that she first drew attention to the reduction in her security. Her party's website is calling for donations to fund her continued protection privately.
Since she became Immigration and Integration Minister in 2003, there have been repeated threats against Verdonk in response to her critical stance on immigrants.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]