Who would ever dare to complain to the PvdA about transgressive behaviour? – Yep

29-10-2022

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It was with great disappointment that I learned on Friday that the PvdA board, following the advice of the objections committee, has withdrawn all sanctions against Gijs van Dijk.

At the beginning of February this year, on the advice of a PvdA member, I contacted Lilianne Ploumen to report a series of disturbing behavior and cases of cross-border behavior by the then Member of Parliament Gijs van Dijk. This included a story told by Gijs van Dijk, which turned out to be untrue, regarding an earlier complaint of sexually transgressive behavior against him.

An important consideration in reporting this was that I had been told by a former PvdA staff member that there had been an official warning against Gijs van Dijk for some time. My report would be an important addition to the existing file.

More complaints followed, Gijs van Dijk was asked to temporarily put aside his advocacy and he decided to withdraw from the chamber. An investigation was launched, with the Bezemer en Schubad agency tasked with testing Gijs van Dijk’s behavior against the PvdA’s code of conduct and honor. It also had to be checked whether previous research into his behavior had been carried out correctly.

More stories emerged. Complicated in all these stories was that there was a great fear that stories and names of victims and those involved would come out. Because many of the cases reported took place within the framework of the PvdA faction, the party bureau or elsewhere in the political or ministerial world, the omission of names could also lead to the individuals involved. In short, it was about conditions that could also affect the working lives of various people involved.

The situation felt risky to many of the people who initially participated in the study. The feeling of insecurity became worse when Attje Kuiken became the new party leader. As a result, a number of people subsequently withdrew from participating in the research into Van Dijk’s behaviour. I was one of them.

I was then called by various people from the party and asked to reconsider my cooperation in the investigation. The main argument for this was that if no one cooperated with the investigation, this investigation could no longer take place.

A list of agreements was therefore drawn up at that time in consultation with several complainants, journalists and informants (these were entities within the Bezemer and Schubad investigation) which were to guarantee our security and privacy. One of these agreements was absolute non-disclosure of the physical final report. The reason for this was that even in an anonymized version of the report, stories would point to individuals. Privacy and thus the protection of those involved could not be guaranteed. After these agreements were reached, the individuals who had previously withdrawn from the investigation decided to cooperate again.

Unfortunately, the first agreement was violated within weeks of resuming cooperation in the investigation. Subsequently, when the final report of Bezemer and Schubad was presented, it appeared that the agreements on protection and privacy were apparently so strict that the public report on this report was written so concisely that it became multi-interpretable for many. It says, among other things: “The investigation analyzes the circumstances that the journalists have disclosed. The input of the other persons heard and Mr Van Dijk’s defense are also included in this analysis. This leads to the conclusion that the circumstances alleged by the reviewers are essentially plausible. It is also plausible that reporting persons feel that they have been treated cross-border and/or unwanted: they have been lied to and cheated, they have been hurt and grieved, one of them has been brought to serious (professional) conscience and the political ambitions. of another have become frustrated.”

What many people don’t realize is that transgressive behavior is by definition a matter of feeling. The place or moment you set your limit is always personal and can be different for everyone. Feeling or feeling that you have been treated in a transgressive manner is therefore the correct wording in the case of transgressive behavior. However, due to the wording, this has been read by many as a ‘too vague concept’ and also an ‘untestable concept’. While it was precisely up to the research bureau to test the plausibility (and reasonableness) of this.

The result of this is positive. The complaints have been accepted. Also the wording: “one of them has been brought to serious (professional) conscience and the political ambitions of another are frustrated” has great meaning in the summary summary. This shows that the declared complaints did not (only) concern matters in the private sphere.

After the summary report of the investigation report was published, I got a call from the researcher from Bezemer and Schubad. He told me the following:

1 Everything I contributed to the investigation into Gijs van Dijk’s conduct has been declared well-founded by the inquiry committee.
2 The Commission of Inquiry concluded and stated in the report that my motivation for filing a complaint about Gijs van Dijk’s behavior was honest.

It is disappointing and sad that since the end of the investigation of Bezemer and Schubad, every agreement that the investigative agency and the party leadership made with employees about the investigation has been violated. Contrary to the agreements, Gijs van Dijk was given physical access to the report and was able to film it exactly as he had been warned and feared, distributing the parts he liked. Due to the apparently legally unenforceable agreements that Esther-Mirjam Sent has made with those involved and the violation of all agreements, Gijs van Dijk and his lawyer were able to challenge the sanctions imposed on him before the PvdA’s objection committee. This was not done for substantive but procedural reasons.

Those sanctions were lifted on Friday. Apologies have been given to Gijs van Dijk.

The result is that I, as the only one with a name and surname, but also the other journalists have been insulted and victimized. We have not been served justice in any way. Neither to our complaints nor to the personal consequences of this whole process. No help has been offered to us, nor have we been offered any apologies for the suffering this event has caused us.

And worst of all, no one will ever again dare raise the alarm or file a complaint regarding transgressive behavior.

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