Hike in the Hague: "Openness is the power here"
Last week, The Hague was all about the Dutch rule of law, culminating in Saturday's Rondje Rechtsstaat! Hundreds of people participated in this last day of the Week of the Rule of Law, where various organizations opened their doors to the public and gave them a behind-the-scenes look at the Dutch "system for an orderly and just society."
Together with four passionate volunteers and a group of applicants, we set out. All the participating organizations welcomed us with open arms, giving us a glimpse into a world you normally don't often think about. Hannah (one of the volunteers): "This world is actually totally unknown to me. I know that decisions are made here that affect me and my surroundings but of course I don't dwell on them on a daily basis; let alone being physically present in such a place."
Even to the chairman Aleid Wolfsen of the Personal Data Authority, watchdog of privacy, people could ask haphazard questions: "That openness is the power of this though."
Hannah describes here one of the pillars of what makes Rule of Law Week so important: transparency. Bringing attention to the institutions of our democratic rule of law increases contact between legislation and citizens. For this reason, the program focuses not only on knowledge sharing of professionals, but also on information and openness to the public, especially youth and young adults. To facilitate that, all the participating organizations (Cabinet of the King, the Council of State, the Senate and House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, the Council for the Judiciary, the National Archives, the Personal Data Authority, the Damage Fund for Crimes of Violence, and the Academies of Law and Governmental Justice) devised different programs. In the House of Representatives, for example, interested parties could talk with House Speaker Vera Bergkamp. People could also ask questions indiscriminately to chairman Aleid Wolfsen of the Personal Data Authority (AP) at the privacy watchdog's premises on Lange Voorhout. "That openness is the strength of this," the spokeswoman said (ANP).
With a successful open house last Saturday, the Week of the Rule of Law concluded, but the importance of this topic continues to work. In the podcast "The Law Factory", weekly current excerpts and interviews with experts inside and outside the central government talk about how laws are created and work. From preparation at ministries, negotiations in Brussels to debates in parliament.