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Supplementary statement regarding the request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act submitted by The Rights Forum - 21 February 

All 14 Dutch universities have received a request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act from The Rights Forum. They have decided not to comply with parts of this request. 


 
The reason for this is that the request asks them to disclose not just ties with organisations in Israel, but also those with Dutch and international organisations that study religion, promote remembrance and combat anti-Semitism. All 14 Dutch universities will not comply with this part of the request. Although special universities are not bound by the Government Information (Public Access) Act, which is sufficient reason not to comply with the request in itself, they fully support this argument. 


 
Dutch universities contribute to pluralism and freedom in Dutch academia, Dutch society generally and beyond. We condemn unequal treatment on the basis of religion or origin in the strongest possible terms. We aim for a safe working climate for all our students and staff and strive to be an academic community in which nobody is excluded and no distinctions are made on the basis religion or origin. Targeting specific members of the public, including students, staff and alumni of our universities, leads to feelings of insecurity, injustice and discrimination. We will not assist in this. 
 

 

 


Supplementary statement regarding the request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act submitted by The Rights Forum

Tuesday 15 February 2022

 

Several weeks ago, all Dutch universities received a request under the Government information (Public Access) Act from The Rights Forum, in which it requested information on ‘institutional ties of the university with universities, institutions and businesses in Israel and with organisations that propagate support for the State of Israel’. They were also requested to provide information on ties with a number of specifically Jewish organisations.


 

The way in which this request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act has been processed and information about it has been disseminated has led to some people feeling anxious and unsafe. This is very unfortunate. We stand for a safe education, research and working climate for all of our students and employees. We take any signs that this current situation is a result of the way we have handled the request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act very seriously and confirm that a careful assessment of this request is of the utmost importance.

 

Last Friday, we already indicated that the universities will petition the party that submitted the request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act for a delay. More information on this is provided below.

 

All universities governed by the Government Information (Public Access) Act will petition the party that submitted the request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act, The Rights Forum, for a delay or have already done so. This means that no further steps are currently being taken to request, gather or submit the information requested under the Government Information (Public Access) Act.

 

The universities would like to carefully consider whether and, if so, how the request should be handled. This requires them to consider, on the one hand, the Government Information (Public Access) Act and, on the other, broader legal frameworks and basic principles at universities such as the safety of staff and students, academic freedom, equal treatment and combating discrimination. In this regard, it will be considered whether cooperating with all or parts of the request will constitute unfair treatment of those involved (Section 10g(2) of the Government Information (Public Access) Act).

 

This consideration requires due care and may therefore require some time. As soon as more information is available, we will send out another message.

 

 


Response of Universities of the Netherlands to the request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act submitted by The Rights Forum

Friday 11 February 2022 

 

All 14 universities affiliated with Universities of the Netherlands have received a request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act from The Rights Forum to disclose ‘the institutional ties of Dutch universities with universities, institutions and businesses in Israel and with organisations that propagate support for the State of Israel’. This request has prompted a number of questions and caused considerable unrest. All universities governed by the Government Information (Public Access) Act will petition the party that submitted the request for a delay, so that they have time to process it.

 

The request is for the disclosure of institutional partnerships between Dutch universities and the organisations specified in the request. It specifically excludes partnerships between individual academics. Almost all Dutch universities have a statutory duty to comply with requests under the Government Information (Public Access) Act to make information public. Universities may not distinguish between requests that they deem morally or otherwise acceptable or suitable and those that they do not. However, this does not mean that all requested information must be made public in its entirety. The Government Information (Public Access) Act specifies grounds for the exception of certain types of information, including personal details such as religious or philosophical beliefs. Interested parties within the meaning of the General Administrative Law Act that have reservations about making certain types of information public will be asked to share their points of view, or objections against publication, with their universities. These points of view will be a factor in the eventual decision-making process regarding publication.
 

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