Two RUG staffers up for Children’s Ombudsman

There are two nominees for the position of the national Children’s Ombudsman, and both of them are staff members of the RUG.

Margrite Kalverboer (endowed professor of child, pedagogy and refugee law) and Carla van Os (researcher at the Study Centre for Children, Migration and Law) have both been put forward in the Lower House of Parliament as nominees.

The sub-committee for Home Affairs and Public Health, Welfare and Sport announced the names of the candidates on Thursday. Kalverboer is at the top of the list.

Strictly confidential

‘It’s good news that two RUG staff members are being nominated’, Kalverboer says. The endowed professor did not know that her colleague, Carla van Os, had also applied for the position. ‘That is a strictly confidential procedure so it doesn’t get talked about. I can only say that I had heard that interest had been expressed in me.’

Kalverboer cannot discuss how the process is going. ‘I am not allowed to talk about it. Next Tuesday, the Lower House of Parliament will vote. For the time being, I’m just a nominee.’

She achieved her PhD at the RUG in 1996 for research into the Child Care and Protection Board’s reports on extreme problem cases in child rearing and childcare. Following her defense, she worked as a behavioural scientist at the youth detention centre Het Poortje. In 2007, she became a lawyer with a specialisation in children’s rights and since then, she has been doing research into developments and the legal position of children with regard to civil rights, the juvenile justice system and, in particular, refugee law.

In 2012, Kalverboer was named an endowed professor at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences (BSS) by Stichting Nidos, a foundation for the protection of young refugees. ‘I have always worked with children in vulnerable positions, and that is why I would be eager to become the Children’s Ombudsman’, says Kalverboer.

Overly activist

Carla van Os, who is also a researcher at BSS, is second on the list. According to BNR, a news radio station, the VVD (the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy) is critical of her nomination due to their perception of her as being overly activist. Van Os was not available for comment.

The researcher studied orthopedagogy, journalism and Dutch law. She has worked as a spokesperson at Stichting Vluchteling (The Netherlands Refugee Foundation) and as a lawyer at Defence for Children. She was the driving force behind the ‘Mauro must stay’ campaign.


One of the two nominees will succeed the outgoing Children’s Ombudsman, Marc Dullaert. He is leaving his post on 1 April because his tenure was not extended by National Ombudsman, Renier van Zuphten. Van Zuphten wanted to recruit his own team.

Dullaert’s dismissal caused a national uproar. Parliamentary parties CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal) and D66 (Democrats 66) asked for more clarification and on Twitter, #Dullaertmoetblijven (#Dullaertmuststay) remained a trending topic for quite a while.

‘I don’t know the ins and outs’, says Kalverboer about the issue. ‘But it distracts from the real issue, which is the implementation of children’s rights in the Netherlands.’

The Lower House of Parliament is expected to decide upon Dullaert’s successor on Tuesday, 5 April.