Monday 13 July 2020

Jehovah’s Witnesses go to court to block sex abuse report publication

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Dutch branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious sect has gone to court to try to stop the publication of a report into sexual and physical abuse within the community.

Researchers at Utrecht University were commissioned to write a report on behalf of the justice ministry, following claims that sexual abuse claims are hushed up and that victims received no help.

After the first revelations were published by Trouw in 2017, hundreds of people came forward to report their own abuse stories.

Justice minister Sander Dekker had called for the Jehovah’s Witnesses to set up their own independent inquiry, but the church declined.

MPs from all parties called for an independent inquiry into allegations against the church, which has around 30,000 followers across the Netherlands.

According to regional paper Dagblad van het Noorden, the church has described the university findings as ‘incorrect, slanderous and extremely insulting’. Publication will cause untold damage to the community and may also be discriminatory, it claimed.

The case will be heard in Utrecht on Wednesday afternoon.

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