7. Responses from Politicians
Below you will find the full texts of some of the letters which I have received in connection with my efforts at seeking compensation and reinstatement of honor. The name Marchand is here again my pseudonym.
The first letter is from our former minister of health.
Ministry of Health
Rijswijk, Jan. 10, 1997
Dear Mr. Marchand:
I have read your letter of November 1 this year with my fullest attention. Your letter is a response to an answer you received earlier from the director of (name of psychiatric institution) in my name. In your letter, you refer to two subjects.
First you note that the letter from the director of the institution was written in my name. That is correct. On this point the internal instructions were not followed. Letters which the queen has passed on to the minister should be signed personally by the minister. I regret that in your case this rule was not followed.
Your second subject is the failure of our justice system. You are right that this is a subject about which you may address any minister, so also me. I have reread your previous, most thorough letter. I would like to respond as follows.
From your letter I take it that you were hospitalized in the period 1961-1970 (should be 1963-1970, ed.) and received extensive treatment with psychoactive drugs. You were also hospitalized for that several times in a psychiatric hospital. In that period, you increasingly felt that in your case a medical error was made, namely, that hyperlipidemia was not ruled out as a possible organic cause of your illness. You struggled for many years to attain clarity and recognition of this. Fairly recently, your family doctor supported you in your view, and opined that the diagnosis given to you in the late sixties was erroneous. With that you obtained an opinion that you would have liked to have received many years earlier from official legal authorities.
You will appreciate that in my position I neither can nor am I allowed to pass judgment on the contents of your complaint. After all, we're discussing a legal pronouncement on a medical error. The Central Medical Ethics Board has ruled that the physician in question was not negligent in evaluating a possible physical cause of your suffering. It is of course very sad that you afterwards find support from a different physician for your suspicions. But is there any point after 25 years in demanding responsibility from your physician for a matter which took place so long ago?
The fact that in our law events can pass their expiry date, and that there is no way to appeal a decision of the Central Medical Ethics Board, lead you to conclude that our justice system doesn't function properly.
I can understand your frustration as expressed in your letter. At the same time, I note that the legislator has also made well-considered laws to protect people who are charged with making medical errors. In my opinion this is a good thing. Sometimes this can cause friction between justice and reasonability. Such is part of our judicial system, with which you are now specifically confronted. Unfortunately, there is no possibility for you to attain justice, even though you feel you have not yet done so.
I regret that I cannot inform you otherwise. I wish you much success for the future and hope that you will be able to not allow this event to overshadow your future.
The Minister of Health (signature)
Overlooked is the fact that precisely because of what happened to me, and the many years of unnecessary drugging, I was unable to present my claims earlier. Therefore I believe that it is wrong to accuse me of not having complained earlier. You may as well say to someone who was in coma for many years due to medical error, that he doesn't have a case because he woke up too late.
The minister mentioned not a word about the state's role in this affair. Without the state's permission, the forced treatment, which I consider a form of state terror, could not have taken place.
I later submitted the minister's letter, along with some other documents, including my family doctor's statement, to the leader of the Labor Party in parliament. He informed me that he lacked the expertise to judge the matter, and passed it on to a different party member. From him I received the following reply:
The Hague, Feb. 5, 1997
Dear Mr. Marchand:
Through certain channels I received your correspondence with the minister. I have read the minister's response which she sent you on Jan. 10, 1997, several times. I am of the opinion that she explained the situation very well. There is sometimes friction between justices and reasonability. Sometimes such friction finds a different expression than the most obvious: namely after so many years still finding justice. I agree with the minister that there is no longer any possibility for that in your case. I join the minister in hoping that you will be able to find a place in our life for these past events in your future life, and wish you success.
Labor Party Member of Parliament