UN rapporteur to step down after accusing Dutch police of brutality
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, who earlier this year denounced the actions of the Dutch police at coronavirus protests, is resigning from his position. Nils Melzer, from Switzerland, will take over the top position at the International Committee of the Red Cross in July.
Melzer’s term as a UN rapporteur was supposed to last until October of this year. He will now leave at the end of March, months earlier than expected. He explained on Twitter that he is stepping down early to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
The rapporteur strongly criticized the Netherlands last month, responding to edited viral videos of police actions against protesters at demonstrations against Covid measures. He called images of police beatings “one of the most disgusting examples of police brutality since George Floyd,” comparing the situation to that of the black American who was killed in a violent arrest.
This criticism sparked outrage, with Dutch police unions filing a complaint against Melzer and calling his conclusions biased and premature. Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema wrote the UN rapporteur a letter in which she pointed out “the importance of judging an incident based on thorough and weighted information.”
In one of the incidents Melzer criticized, which took place at a rally in The Hague on March 14, the rapporteur accused the Netherlands of willfully ignoring the amount of force used by police. However, months earlier, the authorities announced their investigation into incidents at the coronavirus measures protest, leading the Public Prosecution Service to formally pursue charges against two police officers in December.
Melzer stood by his accusations. "I have enough experience in the field of war, military actions and police brutality to say that this is torture," he told NOS. "The officers hit hard and then let the police dog bite the man."
Reporting by ANP