Thursday 21 September 2006

Lady Oddjob takes no responsibility

Ministerial culpability

My silence regarding about Lady Oddjob has been shattered to smithereens as news arrives about a situation to which she should have responded, but she has ended up being affected by her inaction.

Last November, an arsonist imprisoned illegal immigrant set fire to his confinements leading to a big fire which apparently the security staff ignored assuming a recurrent altercation leading to the deaths of 11 inmates.

Long before the inquiry had been launched both the Justice Minister (Donner) and the Minister for Integration and Immigration (Mrs Verdonk [Lady Oddjob]) commended the staff of the detention centre for having done all in their power to contain the situation and save life. Covered in Dancing on their warm graves.

At a point, the Major of the locality decided to revoke the certificate of safety and worthiness of that building in order to compel the Justice Minister to assign a safer building for the function of immigrant detention centre; he was overruled with an extraordinary constitutional stature invoked by the Justice Minister.

Ministerial inertia

When an independent inquiry and investigator was appointed, he extracted a promise out of Mrs Verdonk’s ministry to keep the survivors in the Netherlands for at least the duration of the inquiry, unfortunately, some of those witnesses were shipped out of the country before he had adequate access to them, this left the inquiry a bit hamstrung and the investigator quite miffed that he went to the press.

Eventually, in an act of unusual kindness, the remaining survivors were granted leave to stay in the country and the arsonist charged for fire-raising amongst other offences.

Now, another inquiry run by the Dutch Safety Council has released its report on this fateful event with a scathing indictment of the government for not adhering to planning and safety rules, rules which would have limited or prevented the deaths of 11 hapless illegal immigrants.

Ministerial responsibility

Somehow, after the report, the Justice and Housing Ministers felt their positions were untenable, took responsibility for the failings and resigned, so did the Mayor of the locality whose officials had issued the safety permits which he tried to revoke after the event.

Mrs Verdonk whose hard-line immigrant policies makes her the most popular Dutch politician who could be found in the middle of the most embarrassing, scandalous and inhumane policies on immigration exemplified in the revocation and reinstatement of Hirsi Ayaan Ali’s Dutch citizenship and the collapse of the Balkenende II government having refused to resign for her actions, takes the spoils by becoming the Minister for Justice for two months before the elections.

We can safely assume that Mrs Verdonk would never take responsibility for any actions that have taken place under her watch.

What makes this more concerning is that she as Minister of Justice might end up receiving the report that lead to the resignation of her boss, then presiding over the means to respond to its recommendations, a situation from which she must recuse herself having not had the honourable integrity to resign in the wake of a report that from my judgement embroils her in ministerial culpability.

In the end, it appears there is no amount of damage this woman can bring to Dutch politics that can make her responsible for anything such that she can honourably resign, if the polls or political cowardice on the part of Minister-President Jan-Pieter Balkenende are responsible for this; November should give us the fresh air of bolder initiatives from a new government.

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