Domestic abuse watchdog Veilig Thuis has criticised police for reporting around 30 children who were arrested during Extinction Rebellion protests in The Hague as at-risk cases.
Veilig Thuis said it was “surprised” to have received dozens of referrals for parents who took their children on the demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday, which ended peacefully.
“We think it was unnecessary to refer these cases to us,” said spokesman Onno Aerden. “Demonstrating is not a form of child abuse.”
Police arrested more than 2,900 people over the two days for taking part in the unauthorised protests that blocked the A12 motorway heading into the city.
One mother, Musetta Blaauw, told AD the police decision to refer her two children, aged 16 and six, to the agency was “pure intimidation”.
“This was a peaceful demonstration, not hooligans rioting,” she said. “We were just sitting on the motorway singing songs and eating biscuits.”
Dick Goijers, spokesman for The Hague’s police division, admitted that almost all the children arrested had been referred to Veilig Thuis, but said this was “standard procedure” for “arrests and other situations where children are at risk, such as neglect.”
But Aerden said police appeared to be using the agency’s name “as a kind of threat” to parents taking part in the demonstration. “A referral to Veilig Thuis is not a punitive measure and shouldn’t be used as such,” he said.
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