The Netherlands institutionalizes autistic boy for 2 years without parental consent – bring him home NOW #GiveMartinBack


An Open Letter

To His Royal Majesty King Willem-Alexander, Premier of The Netherlands Mark Rutte, Vice-premier of The Netherlands and Minister for Health, Welfare and Sport Hugo de Jonge, President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, UN Secretary General António Guterres, and UNICEF President Rabab Fatima,

In February 2018, 5 year old Martin was taken from his parents by Dutch child protective services after a neighbour reported “closed curtains.”

Despite no evidence of abuse or neglect ever being found, it was 13 months before Martin was granted access to see his parents, and it has been 25 months since his removal. Yet still, Martin has not been returned to his parents.

After investigating Martin’s undiagnosed developmental delay, it soon became apparent according to multiple experts that Martin was simply autistic, and his parents were fully cleared of any abuse suspicions by police, doctors, and psychologists. Yet the Dutch CPS refused to acknowledge that they had made a mistake, and instead have been pushing the parents to sign an unwarranted contract to investigate releasing their child to foster care.

So in a democracy such as the Netherlands, why is an autistic child living in an institution with restricted access to his parents, having his basic human rights denied, with no indicator that he will ever be returned to his parents?

An institution is a wholly unsuitable situation for him, but their refusal to provide access to care and support that any other autistic child living in the Netherlands would receive goes beyond negligence.

He is receiving 45 minutes a week of speech therapy (in Dutch, which is not his native language).

His physical growth is potentially stunted (no medical measurements have been provided to the parents in over 18 months), as the institution will not provide food specifically the way he will eat it, and thus Martin skips meals he doesn’t like.

He is not attending school or receiving appropriate education, which is actually against the law in The Netherlands.

A child would typically be removed from their family as a last resort. This seems to have been done as a first measure, and then compounded by fabricated accusations to justify these aggressive actions which contradict the expert opinions of professionals in several fields.


Do you want every Dutch resident who is the parent of an autistic child to be sick with worry wondering if one day their children will suddenly be taken from them for no reason?

Does the Netherlands want to become known for dismissing human rights?

Human rights such as:

Article 8: Right to respect for private and family life. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

Article 9: Separation from parents. Children must not be separated from their parents against their will unless it is in their best interests (for example, if a parent is hurting or neglecting a child).

No evidence has been given for to justify removal, and there should be no possible reason to keep a child from his parents for such an extended time without such evidence.

Article 23: Children with a disability. A child with a disability has the right to live a full and decent life with dignity and, as far as possible, independence and to play an active part in the community. Governments must do all they can to support disabled children and their families.

The agencies involved appear to have been actively attempting to destroy the bond between the child and parents, and the child has been removed from the community so much that he does not even go to school and attends a day care centre, even though there is no evidence of intellectual disability. (Article 28: Right to education.)

As autistic adults and professionals, we care passionately about the rights of autistic children all over the world and are gravely concerned at this case, which seems based more on covering everyone’s mistakes than a genuine regard for the child’s human rights. 

We urge you to do the right thing – return this autistic child to his loving family immediately. 


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2 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, this story is more common then most people think. As a worker in mental health care (small private organisation) we see a lot going wrong, especially in child care. The sheer incompetence of the dutch CPS is breathtaking. Without saying that everything goes wrong, too often this pattern emerges: on false or irrelevant reasons they remove a child from the home of its parent(s) and then constructing new ‘concerns’ again and again. That works as follows: These children are constantly being moved around from fostercare to crisis-intervention, to institutes etc. AND without any contact with its parents. Every new ‘caretaker’ assumes that there was a genuine reason that this child isn’t with its parent(s), so they are looking for confirmation of that. Nobody seems to realize that the child is in great distress, not because of its parents, but by the actions of the system itself (obviously). Common practice is that NOBODY will actually speak to the child (<12 years) to try to explain what is going on or what is about to happen. They call that "not bothering the child with adult stuff" (sic!). Only if a child is 12 years old, the system is required to hear the child and inform it to some extent. Imagine what that does to a 5 or 6 year old. Especially a child with autism or other developmental problems will crash eventually, will behave badly etc. Then everybody says: "See, this child has serious problems, so we have to continue its 'professional' (not) care". Judges are often aware of that, but they cannot challenge the 'expertise' of people that more often then not cannot even write properly (Copy-paste most of their reports from earlier false statements and assumptions, sometimes even from files of other children). The highest official in a CPS team is the 'behavioral expert', very often a (too) young psychologist (straight from university, without further specialization, very often without children of their own and NO experience in life. The rest of the team looks up to that person, as it were a God. It makes me sick, quite literally actually.

    I apologize to all the people in CPS that DO have a conscience and are trying to do the right thing. Although they make a difference (I don't envy them), the whole system sucks and it places other, very mediocre people in a position of power, something that is almost always very wrong.

    I cannot comment on the specific case, described above, because I don't know the ins and outs, but the story is very recognizable as described. Including the racism and stupid prejudices, by the way. I wish everyone lots of strength, support and wisdom, but I realize how hollow that is. Unbearable it is. ALWAYS consult a lawyer btw.

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