13 people with terrorism convictions pass VOG test

Amsterdam District Court. Photo: Dutch News

In total, 13 people who have a conviction for being a member of a terrorist organisation have been granted an official certificate of good behaviour, or VOG, over the past four years, legal protection minister Franc Weerwind told MPs on Thursday.

Some of those involved were given multiple certificates, taking the total granted to 22. They worked in a variety of different sectors, ranging from healthcare to IT and education.

Weerwind was responding to questions from MPs following the news that a woman convicted of being a former member of IS had been given a VOG and was doing voluntary work on behalf of refugee agency Vluchtelingenwerk. 

All 13 people with terrorism convictions had gone through the Dutch legal system and their convictions are on record, Weerwind said. 

In addition, some 30 applications for a VOG were rejected over the past four years because the applicant had a terrorism conviction. 

Weerwind said that in the case of the refugee volunteer, the company responsible for the screening had complied with the rules. He said he could not go into the specifics of the case but said that on occasion the interests of the applicant can be more important than the risk to society at large. 

Currently, record checks only go back four years, apart from when people are applying to work in certain sectors, such as a council warden, or boa. 

Weerwind said he wants to tighten up the record check to 20 years for some sectors and will look together with the public prosecution department and counter-terrorism unit at what specific functions this should be applied to. 

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