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MSF Dismayed by Dutch Government Appeal of Geneva Court Ruling
MSF denounces in the strongest possible terms the relentless attitude of the Dutch government in its pursuit of legal action against MSF and its persistent denial of the role it played in freeing Arjan Erkel.
Geneva, May 4, 2007 — Following the March rejection of the case put forward by the Dutch Government against Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in a Geneva Court in July 2004, the decision to appeal the ruling shows a relentless legal obstinacy.
This decision is a grave political act that contradicts the publicly claimed commitment of the Dutch government to support humanitarian action. It is even more outrageous since the court established in its March 15, 2007 ruling, without the smallest ambiguity, that the allegations formulated by the Dutch government were groundless. It also established that the suggestion of a loan agreement existing between the two parties was pure speculation. The Geneva Court confirmed that MSF had never committed to reimbursing the ransom money that was used to free Arjan Erkel.
Moreover, in its ruling, the Geneva Court also indicated the following: "The investigations have shown that the transaction and the liberation process were the results of actions taken by the Dutch government and its contacts." The court ruling also stated that the gathering of the money necessary for the payment of the ransom was unilaterally organized by the Dutch government, and that the Russian and Dutch authorities jointly planned the release of Arjan Erkel.
Both political and humanitarian actors criticized the legal process selected and followed by the Dutch government. The Geneva Court also expressed criticism in its ruling stating that it felt "it was inappropriate, in the interest of victims of armed conflicts as well as those of humanitarian actors and States, to create jurisprudence on kidnapping issues." The former Dutch ambassador to Moscow at the time of the crisis declared in an article published in the Dutch daily NRC Handesblad that a decision to appeal the ruling of the Geneva Court would be unwise.
MSF is concerned that the hard line position of the Dutch government could have a negative impact on the security of all aid organizations working in war zones.
Arjan Erkel case background:
March 15, 2007
Tags: North Caucasus