Dutch Honorary Consuls Speak Out

17-08-2018

Dutch Honorary Consuls Speak Out

Dutch Honorary Consuls abroad have recently written a letter to the Government of the Netherlands, to address the issue of unavailable and inaccessible Dutch Embassies and Consulates in some countries.

The full letter can be downloaded here. Striking passages from the letter are:

  •  (...) The responsibilities of the Honorary Consuls have been reduced and sometimes even marginalized over the past decade. Our often unique positions in our countries are not always explored to the best and sometimes even ignored. There are possibilities where the position of the Honorary Consul can be used better to serve the Netherlands, the Netherlands citizens living in our countries and also serve better the countries we live in.
  • The Honorary Consuls of The Netherlands in the whole world, are regularly confronted by angry Netherlands citizens who face high costs for obtaining a new passport.
  • Simply authorize the Honorary Consul (King appointed civil servant!), the use of the scanner is simple and easy and less complicated than a coffee machine and the cost of the scanner has gone down to a few hundred Euros. This technology is even incorporated in every modern cellphone, free of charge!
  • The Honorary Consul is not authorized to identify people. This matters especially with young children. (...) To us it seems that our signature (oath taken and sworn in by the ambassador) is more reliable than a “facial characteristics identification”.
  • We would like to call to an end of the age discrimination against Honorary Consuls. The “rule” of the ministry is that Honorary Consuls are sacked at the age of 70 is no longer of today. (...) Today, 70 is the new 60. We like to be judged on the basis of our work for the Kingdom of the Netherlands and NOT on the basis of a date on the calendar.
  • Honorary Consuls are not allowed to have contacts with the local or international press (including The Netherlands) and we are supposed to always refer journalists to the Embassy (which often again depends on information from us!). We are not allowed to publish anything that is not pre-seen by the Ministry. We find this a limitation to our freedom of speech.

This letter has been shared by Mr. Eelco Keij, a parliamentary candidate from the Netherlands who campaigns for Dutch citizens living and working abroad. According to him, the issues originate from ministerial bureaucracy, as well as a lack of understanding, empathy and apprecitation for the value of Dutch citizens abroad, among certain parts of the government and ministry. This reflects in the services rendered to them. He calls for the coalition parties to give due attention to the letter by the Honorary Consuls in parliament.

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