Scroll down

Alternate Text
News banner

Landmark ruling: Dutch State and drinking water companies must stop cutting off drinking water to families with children

The Dutch government's policy and practice of disconnecting children from the water in the event of non-payment is unlawful. The Dutch State and public drinking water companies PWN and Dunea deliberately left open the possibility that children, through no fault of their own, find themselves in a situation with far too little access to drinking water. This is what the court in The Hague ruled. The government must act now to prevent water cuts among children.

Children in the Netherlands are cut off from drinking water if their parents do not pay the bill. Defence for Children Netherlands and the Dutch Section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM) filed the case, as water cuts among families with children are contrary to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They were assisted pro bono by lawyers from PILP and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek.

Right to water

The court in The Hague rules that children have an independent right to access to drinking water. The Dutch State has acted unlawfully, by not taking the best interests of the child as the primary consideration in the Disconnection Policy for Small Users of Drinking Water. The court orders the State to take measures to ensure that children no longer end up in situations where they do not have enough access to drinking water if their parents or guardians have not paid the bill. Drinking water companies Dunea and PWN are both banned from turning off drinking water to underage children. In addition, they must reconnect families with children to whom the drinking water supply has now ended.

No child without water

The organizations are pleased with the ruling. “This ruling is historic”, said Mirjam Blaak, Executive Director of Defence for Children Netherlands. “Recognizing the independent right of children to access water is theright step. Children should never suffer if their parents cannot afford the bill. This statement brings us one step closer to our goal: that no child in the Netherlands will be without drinking water.

Kavita Hira, president of the NJCM, said: "With the recognition of this fundamental right for the child, a foundation has finally been laid to put an end to this degrading practice of water disconnections."

Mirjam Blaak: “It has been a number of years since the first family that was cut off from drinking water knocked on our door - with a 9-month-old baby - and we jointly took the step to initiate legal proceedings. The harmful consequences of poverty often remain invisible, but attention to this matter has set in motion a movement both socially, legally and politically.

Note for editors

For more information, questions and interviews, please contact Mylène Tabernal, press officer at Defence for Children Netherlands
+31 (0)6  10 47 24 98

More information

Read the court's verdict here.

Deel dit artikel

Gerelateerde artikelen

Historische uitspraak: Nederlandse staat en drinkwaterbedrijven moeten stoppen met afsluiten van drinkwater bij gezinnen met kinderen

Het beleid van de Nederlandse overheid om kinderen van het water af te sluiten bij wanbetaling is onrechtmatig. De Neder…

Lees meer

Meerderheid Tweede Kamer voor oplossing waterafsluiting gezinnen met kinderen

Een meerderheid van de Tweede Kamer wil dat gezinnen met kinderen voortaan niet meer worden afgesloten van water. Volgen…

Lees meer

Defence for Children in hoger beroep in waterzaak

Defence for Children en het Nederlands Juristen Comité voor de Mensenrechten (NJCM) hebben hoger beroep ingesteld tegen …

Lees meer
We gebruiken cookies om ervoor te zorgen dat onze website zo soepel mogelijk draait. Door gebruik te maken van onze website gaat u akkoord met ons beleid. Privacy verklaring