Dutch law against terrorism threatens quick relief response

This month the House of Representatives has agreed to a change in the law as proposed by minister Grapperhaus (Minister of Justice and Security) to make it punishable to remain in terrorist areas without prior approval from the government. The Dutch Relief Alliance is working in conflict zones, like Syria or Iraq, and has to respond quickly to acute emergency situations. This new antiterrorism bill requires humanitarian aid organisations to ask permission prior to an emergency response. It will therefore take longer before we will be able to provide the necessary support whilst a quick response will be absolutely essential. Furthermore, as humanitarian aid NGOs, we must be able to deliver our work independently, autonomous from the political, religious or other objectives that any actor may hold with regard to areas where humanitarian action is being implemented. This new bill will not allow us work independently. Therefore the sixteen organisations of the Dutch Relief Alliance are requesting the Senate to reject the bill. We published this article in NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch).