Are Parliament and the Cabinet prepared to receive serious feedback? Is The Hague culture sufficiently focused on law and truth? Or do powerful signals from practice lead to a hardening of relationships? Dealing with criticism is difficult for everyone. And nothing human is foreign to politics. Administrative life is complicated enough thanks to political fragmentation, vulnerable coalitions, polarization between citizens and government. There are plenty of media spotlights – and the political agenda is scary.
Then the Judicial Council visits again, so far the most politically remote, diplomatic and reserved administrative body in The Hague. But this time, the annual report contains explicit ‘abdominal pain files’. Rules decided by the judges are unfair to the citizens. Because they have no effect due to lack of capacity. Because they have unreasonable side effects. Because there can be no justice with it, but injustice because the law forces the judge to do it.
It’s something of a confession. In fact, the judges are now saying for the first time: We are not doing well in these areas and we cannot do well.
The additional case is not an incident, but part of a pattern. This week, the judges found that there is a ‘continuous deterioration’ in youth care, which means that placements outside the home can often no longer be returned in time. The judges do not want to let it go quietly anymore. Also because in the wake of the subsidy case, they experienced that if the bomb explodes, there will be harsh criticism from politicians. Their authority over the citizen suffers as a result. Seen in this way, the abdominal pain files are a matter of ‘he who jumps can expect the ball’.
The council also introduced rules for politicians where tenants, employees, entrepreneurs, driving license holders or people with debt are disproportionately affected. The list of ‘stomach ache files’ is the homework of the Folketing: to be repaired this year. This may prevent future parliamentary or parliamentary inquiries. Extremely useful therefore this inventory of the judiciary, which had been necessary and useful much earlier.
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Such observations cannot remain politically unanswered. After all, the judge also takes a risk by acting as an unsolicited government adviser. The accusation of wanting to ‘interfere’ in politics is easily made in parliament. Acknowledging out loud in the annual report that a rule is wrong or has unfair consequences will certainly be taken up in court. It is automatically an argument in favor of the party affected by such a rule. A different case law can therefore be expected now that the human dimension, proportionality and proportionality after ‘allowances’ are beginning to weigh heavier.
This creates a legal-political dialogue between the House of Representatives and the judiciary at the file level, from which citizens can benefit. But then something has to change in The Hague. In today’s management culture, institutional deafness can thrive in relation to the myriad of opinions, reports and recommendations that science, international organizations and stakeholders already present. The choir is now joining the Judicial Council together with another to dolist for policy. Of course, he could also rejoice in that and promise to remove the abdominal pain. Let’s hope so.
A version of this article was also published in the newspaper on May 16, 2022