Geneva Court Rules in Favor of MSF in Dutch Government Case

Geneva, February 27, 2008 — The Court of Justice of Geneva returned a verdict today in favor of Doctors Without Border/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in a three-year-long legal case brought against MSF by the Dutch government. The Court of Justice of Geneva unequivocally rejected the appeal submitted by the State of the Netherlands against the verdict of the Court of First Instance, which had already dismissed all of the Dutch Government’s claims on March 15, 2007.

The Dutch government had sued MSF for reimbursement of a ransom the government paid in April 2004 for the liberation of Arjan Erkel, a Dutch citizen who was head of mission of MSF when taken hostage in the North Caucasus region. The Dutch government claimed, wrongly, that it was acting on behalf of MSF, but this claim was once again refuted.

Today’s ruling confirms the version of the facts that MSF has stated since the beginning of this legal procedure.

Furthermore, the court required the Dutch government to refund to MSF 230,000 euros deposited by MSF at the Dutch government embassy in Moscow at the time of the event. The Court also asked the Dutch government to reimburse part of the legal fees paid by MSF.

MSF deplores the legal stance taken by the Dutch government and regrets that much energy and effort was devoted to the management of this legal procedure.

“This is the second time that the Swiss courts have confirmed our positions,” said Isabelle Ségui-Bitz, president of MSF-Switzerland. “We hope that this decision will put a definitive end to this affair, which is harmful for humanitarian action.”