Against a touchingly amateurish backdrop with the Amsterdam triangle, Mayor Halsema called Peter R. de Vries a national hero. A hero, writes WF Hermans in The Darkroom of Damocles, is someone who has been careless with impunity. Peter R. de Vries evades Hermans’ definition. He didn’t want security and never wore his bulletproof vest; Unfortunately, his carelessness did not go unpunished. He was lucky until half past seven on Tuesday evening. Then fate took the form of an amateur revolving-door criminal, a boy writing his biography on a criminal record.
De Vries was recently featured in the Racism Knowledge Test of BNNVARA. The interplay of the small mouth with the thin lips and drooping corners of the mouth seems made for the lashing “it is total nonsense what you say.” Once a big, gruff Peter R. de Vries descended into him, but that night he held him down quite a bit. His trademark contempt was limited to a few replies.
Even though his style is sometimes unsympathetic to me, I admire that he never seems to go out of his way to be liked. Just like his daring, perseverance and tireless search behaviour. No man’s master, no man’s servant, and willing to risk everything for truth and justice. Also himself. We are now reading the stories of victims and relatives for whom he sometimes volunteered himself. They all bear witness to another great quality: his loyalty and talent for friendship.
The assassination attempt was also news abroad. The Hungarian Fidesz MEP Hidvéghi Balázs saw an opportunity for a you-bak: “The Netherlands itself has a problem with the rule of law. A clear attack on press freedom. Rutte should meddle with his own country instead of ‘forcing Hungary to its knees’.”
He has a point, albeit for the wrong reason. The rule of law is indeed undermined in the Netherlands, but not by Delano G. from Tiel. This mainly shocks the rule of law, bad enough, but the rule of law is not immediately at stake.
The violation of the Dutch constitutional state is not so much caused by criminals who put it to the test, but by its own representatives. We mainly find them at the VVD. The former justice duo Opstelten and Teeven may serve as a zero point. It is still fresh in his mind how Teeven wanted to make criminal law stricter through cutbacks in the social advocacy profession. In The Green Amsterdammer he explained his strategy at the time: “Then I focused on cutting back on the legal profession. It’s another way to achieve the same effect. If you don’t give a lawyer too much time to spend on a suspect, it won’t be that much, that defense.” He took it with sardonic pleasure, this violation of the rights of the individual, who can no longer properly defend himself against the power of the state. Under his successor, the flyweight Sander Dekker, the cutbacks continued unabated.
Of all the middle parties, the VVD scores worst on the rule of law, according to the recent report by the Commission Rule of Law in Election Programs. From the denunciation of international treaties to naming and shaming from fraudsters: after the demolition work of the past ten years, the job now has to be finished. It must also be possible to abolish the right of nondisclosure, which means the end of the lawyer as confidential counselor and counsellor. “Hungarian-looking distrust of the legal profession,” said then aspiring D66 MP Sydney Smeets in Loyalty.
In the draft election manifesto, the party moved even further towards Orbán, but the suspension of the European Convention on Human Rights and a ban on citizens and institutions from joining forces in legal proceedings went too far even for VVD members. .
Power, hungry for more power; there is more than serious crime to defend against.
Tommy Wieringa writes a column here every week.
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad on 10 July 2021
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of July 10, 2021