Dutch lawyer Johan Oosterhagen has been researching abuses in women’s prisons for over 1.5 years. He also spoke about it with Dutch Minister of Legal Protection, called Franc Weerwind. On the back of that conversation, the Justice and Security Inspectorate (‘Inspection’) has now announced that an investigation will follow to find out how much of those abuses was known in the prison of Nieuwersluis. Who was aware of the sexual abuse of female detainees of which a prison employee is suspected?
Johan Oosterhagen stresses that this research is not good enough. The Inspectorate is not the appropriate party to conduct the research because the Inspectorate is part of the same government that has ignored signals of the abuses in the past. The investigation should also not be limited to the behavior of one specific guard only, nor to the prison in Nieuwersluis or to signals of sexual abuse only. This is a much larger trend indeed.
A major – independent – investigation is needed to find out more about the abuses in women’s prisons. That investigation must be carried out by an independent committee. It is important that female (ex-) detainees can tell their story safely – and if necessary – anonymously, without any consequences attached to this, such as transfer or the reduction of visiting moments. This must also be monitored. In short, to succeed, integrity should be put at the forefront.