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Restitutions Committee sets course and carries on working flat out

10 February 2023

Following the recent departure of two of its members, the Restitutions Committee (RC) is taking all possible steps in order to continue its task of striving for the restoration of rights relating to art that was lost involuntarily during the Nazi era. The current substantive approach will be maintained.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) is giving priority to filling the vacancies in the RC that have arisen (see Appointment of RC members below). In the interests of continuity, the independent RC is continuing its activities unabated. State Secretary for Culture and Media Gunay Uslu attaches great importance to this.

So that the RC can continue its work without delay after the departure of two of its members, lawyer and former notary Dick Oostinga has taken on the task of vice-chair, supported by the other committee members. The RC currently has five members. At least three members are required for handling cases, including the chair or vice-chair.

Committee takes comments seriously

The RC understands that the departure of two members referred to above can give rise to questions about the course it is following, and it takes comments about the issue seriously. The departures relate to an internal matter that the RC cannot discuss in the interests of due care. It explains the course it is following in more detail below.

A critical evaluation of the restitution policy in 2020 by the Second World War Nazi Looted Art Restitution Policy Evaluation Committee resulted in significant changes, which the RC welcomed and has meanwhile implemented. These changes were aimed at uniform and clear decision making, and an open and engaged approach to restitution applicants.

New assessment framework

The advisory report Streven naar Rechtvaardigheid (Striving for Justice) was prepared by the Evaluation Committee after consultation with, among others, the members of the Restitutions Committee. They furthermore contributed to the drafting of the new assessment framework, which has been in force since 22 April 2021. In it, for example, there is no longer a defensible step of weighing up interests as part of the substantive handling of restitution applications.

This assessment framework continues unchanged as guiding and determining in the preparation of recommendations and rulings. In accordance with the Washington Principles, assessment is aimed at reaching ‘a just and fair solution’.

Appointment of RC members

The Decree Establishing the Restitutions Committee states that the RC may have a maximum of seven members. The State Secretary of OCW appoints the members of the RC and its chair. The State Secretary is supported in this by an appropriately qualified appointments advisory committee. The RC itself has no influence on the appointment process.

Candidates must comply with specified profiles that contain the requirements. Advertisements in widely read daily newspapers invite candidates to apply. The Ministry of OCW has meanwhile initiated preparation of the recruitment process for filling both of the vacant positions.

We will keep you informed about progress with the procedure.



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