Complaints of discrimination against people with disabilities at record high

The number of complaints about discrimination against people with disabilities reached a record high last year. The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights received a total of 810 such complaints, compared to 579 in 2016 and 342 in 2015, RTL Nieuws reports.

The Institute attributes the increase to the UN convention for people with disabilities, which the Netherlands ratified in 2016, it said in a report. Under this convention, people with a disability or chronic illness can file a complaint, for example, about poor accessibility at restaurants, museums and public transit. The Human Rights Institute eventually only ruled on 46 of the 810 complaints. In 20 cases the Institute came to the conclusion that there was indeed discrimination.

A total of 4,259 discrimination complaints were received last year. A massive 35 percent of them involved pregnancy discrimination. There were also 416 complaints of discrimination based on race, age, religion or sexual orientation. The Institute ruled on 161 of these complaints, and found discrimination in 48 percent of these cases. 

According to the Institute, the fact that it is sensible to report discrimination is shown in the high follow-up percentage of 87 percent. "Defendants are also prepared to take measures on the basis of a ruling from the Institute without any legal obligations to do so", the Institute, according to the broadcaster.

For example, in one case in which a bus driver refused to help a disabled person onto the bus, the employer instructed all bus drivers that they are obliged to help wheelchair users. And in a case in which a zoo refused a guide dog, the zoo investigated and concluded that it is possible to visit the zoo with a dog. A special route was mapped out for people with visual impairment.