Restricting financial flows in the event of subversion of the rule of law
In order to counter undesirable (foreign) influence and subversion of our Dutch freedoms, democracy and legal order, the Minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker, submitted a bill to the Dutch House of Representatives that gives mayors and the Public Prosecution Service the opportunity to obtain the right to inspect all donations from outside the European Union or the European Economic Area. This proposal has now been complemented by a tool to actively report, freeze, temporarily freeze, restrict, prohibit or confiscate such donations. The bill will also be extended to all domestic and foreign donations. The memorandum of amendment regulating this was submitted for consultation today. A letter about this will be sent to the House of Representatives today as well.
‘Propagating hatred against people with other views, inciting violence and extremism, or spreading anti-democratic ideas – all this has no place in the Netherlands. Organisations that are involved in this should therefore be firmly opposed. In a state governed by the rule of law, we cannot tolerate every sort of intolerance.’
This memorandum of amendment allows the Public Prosecution Service to ask the court to take measures against civil society organisations that undermine or threaten to undermine our democratic rule of law by receiving donations and engaging in activities aimed at undermining the democratic rule of law. Regular charitable organisations with social, philosophical or idealistic objectives will therefore not be affected by the proposal. In the case of subversive practices, the Public Prosecution Service can request the court to take a number of measures. These include the freezing assets for up to one year, a ban of up to two years on receiving certain donations, the repayment of donations or letting them lapse to the state, and an order of up to three years to report all donations to the Public Prosecution Service. Prior to making the request, the Public Prosecution Service can seize records and request their full inspection through the courts. Mayors are also given the opportunity to share information with the Public Prosecution Service in support of this request.
These measures are in addition to the proposal for the Transparency of Social Organisations Act (Wtmo: Wet transparantie maatschappelijke organisaties), which is currently being considered by the House of Representatives. Mayors, the Public Prosecution Service and any other specifically designated government bodies will be granted the power to make enquiries to a civil society organisation about foreign donations and – if they prove to be substantial – to make further enquiries about the individual who made the donation. This is possible, for example, if a civil society organisation constitutes a threat to public order. An organisation that fails to cooperate will have committed an economic offence, while obstructive officers, directors, managers, trustees and administrators will run the risk of having a management disqualification imposed for a maximum period of five years. Moreover, the mayor and the Public Prosecution Service may impose an incremental penalty payment or have this imposed.
The memorandum of amendment incorporates the results of the study conducted in response to the final report of the House of Representatives' parliamentary committee of inquiry into the undesirable influence of unfree countries (Pocob: parlementaire ondervragingscommissie ongewenste beïnvloeding uit onvrije landen), while also implementing the motion of Becker and colleagues.
As of today, for a period of three weeks interested parties can respond to the proposal at www.internetconsultatie.nl.