Right to demonstrate under pressure in Netherlands: Amnesty International
The right to demonstrate is under pressure in the Netherlands. The local governments too often unnecessarily hinder or even ban demonstrations for fear of disturbances, Amnesty International concluded in a report. The human rights organization called on municipalities to better protect the right to demonstrate.
According to Amnesty International, there is too little knowledge about what the right to demonstrate covers. As a result, mayors take unnecessary and unlawful measures to limit demonstrations. The report states that mayors are too quick to turn to the law to restrict or ban a protest if it was not registered or because it would hinder traffic, for example.
Amnesty International said this regular curtailment of demonstrations violates human rights. Because demonstrating is a human right, enshrined in the human rights treaties and the Constitution. According to Amnesty International, the police also intervene too quickly. Especially in large, peaceful demonstrations and blockades, the police too quickly start arresting people and confiscating signs or banners.
“Demonstrations are too often seen as a security risk instead of a human right that should be facilitated as best as possible,” said Amnesty International Netherlands director Dagmar Oudshoorn. “It is especially important now, in times of increasing social tensions, to ensure that everyone who wants to demonstrate peacefully is given free rein, regardless of the content of the protest.”
The human rights organization wants the Netherlands to amend its Public Demonstrations Act. “We want to adapt the national law and regulations at the municipal level. These must be in line with human rights and not imposed out of concern for all possible risks and problems.” Peaceful protesters should not be considered “burdens” or a “security risk.”
According to the human rights organization, communication between the municipality and protesters could also be much better. That would prevent unnecessary interventions and problems.
Reporting by ANP