Netherlands

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law in all parts of the kingdom criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and domestic violence. The penalty in the Netherlands for rape is imprisonment not exceeding 12 years or a fine not exceeding 83,000 euros ($91,300). In case of violence against a spouse, the penalty for various forms of abuse can be increased by one-third. In Aruba the penalty for rape is imprisonment not exceeding 12 years or a fine of 100,000 Aruban florins ($55,250). Authorities effectively prosecuted such crimes.

The Dutch government continued funding for Safe Home, a knowledge hub and reporting center for domestic abuse with 26 regional branches, as the national platform to prevent domestic violence and support victims. The center operated a national 24/7 hotline for persons affected by domestic violence. The government supported the organization Movisie, which assisted survivors of domestic and sexual violence, trained police and first responders, and maintained a website on preventing domestic violence.

Other Harmful Traditional Practices: Honor-related violence is treated as regular violence for the purposes of prosecution and does not constitute a separate offense category. Laws against violence were enforced effectively in honor-related violence cases, and victims were permitted to enter a specialized shelter.

Sexual Harassment: The law penalizes acts of sexual harassment throughout the kingdom and was enforced effectively. The penalty in the Netherlands is imprisonment not exceeding eight years or a fine not exceeding 83,000 euros ($91,300). The law requires employers to protect employees against aggression, violence, and sexual intimidation. In the Netherlands complaints against employers who failed to provide sufficient protection can be submitted to the NIHR. Victims of sexual assault or rape in the workplace can report the incidents to police as criminal offenses.

In Curacao the Stichting Slachtofferhulp (Victims Assistance Foundation) assists the victims.

In Sint Maarten no central institution handles sexual harassment cases. According to the law, substantive civil servant law integrity counselors must be appointed for each ministry. These integrity counselors advise the civil servants on integrity issues. The responsible minister must act on the complaint.

Aruban law states the employer shall ensure the employee is not sexually harassed in the workplace. Employers are required to keep the workplace free from harassment by introducing policies and enforcing them. Sint Maarten and Curacao also have laws prohibiting stalking.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Discrimination: Under the law women throughout the kingdom have the same legal status and rights as men, including under family, religious, personal status, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. The government enforced the law effectively, although there were some reports of discrimination in employment.

Birth Registration: Citizenship can be derived from either the mother or the father, but not through birth on the country’s territory. Births are registered promptly.

Child Abuse: There are laws against child abuse. The penalties depend on the details and context of the case and can reach up to 12 years in prison. A multidisciplinary task force in the Netherlands acts as a knowledge hub and facilitates interagency cooperation in combatting child abuse and sexual violence. The children’s ombudsman headed an independent bureau that safeguards children’s rights and calls attention to abuse. Physicians are required to report child abuse to authorities. In February the Dutch government started a public awareness campaign on child abuse which encouraged witnesses to report suspicious cases to police.

Aruba has a child abuse-reporting center. In Curacao physicians are not required to report to authorities instances of abuse they encounter, but hospital officials reported indications of child abuse to authorities. In Sint Maarten the penal code addresses serious offenses against public morality, abandonment of dependent persons, serious offenses against human life, and assault that apply to child abuse cases.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 18 in all parts of the kingdom. In the Netherlands and Aruba, there are two exceptions: if the persons concerned are older than 16 and the girl is pregnant or has given birth, or if the minister of justice and security in the Netherlands or the minister of justice in Aruba grants a dispensation based on the parties’ request.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Throughout the kingdom, the law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children as well as production, possession, and distribution of child pornography, and authorities enforced the law. The minimum age of consent is 16 in the Netherlands, Curacao, and Aruba and 15 in Sint Maarten. The Netherlands is a source country of child sex tourists. The government ran campaigns to encourage travelers to report suspicions of child sex tourism. An offender can be tried in the Netherlands even if the offense takes place abroad.

International Child Abductions: The kingdom is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

The Liberal Jewish Community, the largest Jewish community in the country, estimated the Jewish population in the Netherlands at 40,000 to 50,000.

In March the NGO Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), the main chronicler of anti-Semitism in the Netherlands, reported 135 anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, an increase of 19 percent over 2017, as well as 95 incidents online. Of these cases, 67 percent occurred within the victims’ regular life routine, such as at school or work or in the company of the people the victims knew. Common incidents included vandalism, physical abuse, verbal abuse, and hate emails. The most common form of vandalism was swastikas scratched or painted on cars, walls, or buildings, sometimes in combination with a Star of David or texts such as “Heil Hitler.” People recognized as Jewish because of their religious attire were targeted occasionally in direct confrontations. A significant percentage of anti-Semitic incidents concerned calling somebody a “Jew” as a common derogatory term. CIDI reported half a dozen anti-Semitic statements by politicians by the pro-Muslim DENK party and the local The Hague Islamic Unity Party in particular.

CIDI claimed the registered incidents were likely only a small portion of the number of all incidents and pointed to research by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (EU-FRA) that concluded only 25 percent of Jews who were victims of anti-Semitism in the past five years reported incidents or filed complaints to police.

The bulk of anti-Semitic expressions reviewed by the prosecutor’s office National Expertise Center for Discrimination and police in 2018 related to anti-Semitic statements and chants by soccer fans, mostly about the Amsterdam soccer team Ajax, whose fans and players are nicknamed “Jews.”

In 2018 MiND Nederland reported 145 anti-Semitic expressions on the internet, a quarter of all reported discriminatory expressions.

In December 2018 the EU-FRA released its second survey of Jewish experiences and perceptions of anti-Semitism. The EU-FRA targeted Jewish populations through community organizations, Jewish media, and social networks; 1,202 individuals who identified themselves as Jewish residents of the Netherlands responded to the online survey. Of the respondents, 43 percent said they occasionally avoided Jewish events for security reasons, while 33 percent said they avoided the public display of Jewish symbols. Eighty percent said they believed the government response and security measures were inefficient and inadequate.

Government ministers regularly met with the Jewish community to discuss appropriate measures to counter anti-Semitism. Government efforts included making anti-Semitism a subject of discussion within the Turkish-Dutch community, setting up a help desk, organizing roundtables with teachers, reaching out to social media groups, promoting an interreligious dialogue, and a public information campaign against discrimination and anti-Semitism.

In May the government of the Netherlands acknowledged the growing need to combat anti-Semitism more effectively by appropriating three million euros ($3.3 million) in supplemental funding, which included improved training on anti-Semitism, as well as Holocaust and World War II remembrance for teachers. In August the Netherlands national railway announced a compensation program for Holocaust victims, who were transported by the railways to a transit camp en route to concentration camps. The program also offered compensation to surviving spouses and children of Holocaust victims.

The Dutch government entered into agreements with major social media networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, to counter offensive language on the internet, including anti-Semitic statements. The government also established measures to counter harassing and anti-Semitic chanting during soccer matches in consultations with stakeholders. The Anne Frank Foundation continued to manage government-sponsored projects, such as the “Fan Coach” project to counter anti-Semitic chanting and the “Fair Play” project to promote discussion on discrimination.

The government of the Netherlands assisted local projects to combat anti-Semitism by providing information and encouraging exchange of best practices among key figures from the Jewish and Muslim communities.

The government adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism as nonlegally binding and shared indicators from this definition with authorities as aids to define policy, identify anti-Semitism, and enforce local law.

The Jewish populations in the Dutch Caribbean were small. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts there.

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.

Laws throughout the kingdom ban discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. In the Netherlands the law requires equal access to employment, education, transportation, housing, and goods and services. It requires that persons with disabilities have access to public buildings, information, and communications, and it prohibits making a distinction in supplying goods and services. The law provides criminal penalties for discrimination and administrative sanctions for failure to provide access.

Government enforcement of rules governing access was inadequate. Despite continued progress, public buildings and public transport were not always easily accessible, lacking access ramps.

In the Dutch Caribbean, a wide-ranging law prohibiting discrimination was applied to persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, health care, transportation, and the provision of other government services. Some public buildings and public transport were not easily accessible to persons with physical disabilities.

Human rights observers from UNICEF noted that in Curacao persons with disabilities had to rely on improvised measures to access buildings and parking areas, as well as in obtaining information.

Not all schools in Sint Maarten were equipped for children with a range of physical disabilities, even though the government reported that all children with physical disabilities had access to public and subsidized schools.

The laws of the kingdom’s constituent territories prohibit racial, national, or ethnic discrimination.

Various monitoring bodies in the Netherlands reported that the largest percentage (43 percent in police statistics) of registered incidents of discrimination in 2018 had to do with a person’s origin, including color and ethnicity. Almost all of these incidents concerned persons of non-Western backgrounds, including Turks, Moroccans, Roma, and Sinti. According to the NIHR, discrimination on racial and ethnic grounds occurred in virtually every sphere (see also Other Societal Violence or Discrimination in this section).

In the Netherlands police received training on avoiding ethnic or racial profiling, although Amnesty International in 2018 criticized the lack of monitoring to assess the training’s effectiveness. The government put into place more effective procedures to process reports of discrimination and assist victims, including an independent complaints committee.

In the Netherlands the law prohibits discrimination against LGBTI persons in housing, employment, nationality laws, and access to government services such as health care. The government generally enforced those laws.

The law explicitly prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex characteristics, gender identity, and gender expression. In April the Netherlands amended the law to make it easier for transgender persons to change their gender on their birth certificate. The government urged institutions and companies to stop unnecessary registration of gender.

The law allows for higher penalties for violence motivated by anti-LGBTI bias. There were hundreds of reports of anti-LGBTI violence. A quarter of incidents of discrimination registered by police in 2018 concerned sexual orientation. Of the 847 complaints registered by police in 2018, 95 percent concerned gay men; 65 percent involved verbal abuse, and 22 percent physical abuse. Prosecutions were rare; many incidents were not reported because victims often believed that nothing would be done with their complaint.

The Transgender Network Netherlands (TNN) worked with authorities and NGOs to advance the rights of transgender persons and to combat discrimination. The TNN specifically promoted an action plan to increase labor participation of transgender persons.

Police had a Netherlands-wide network of units dedicated to protecting the rights of LGBTI persons. The city of Amsterdam’s informational call center dedicated to addressing LGBTI issues aimed at increasing safety and acceptance of homosexuality. The Ministry of Justice and Security sponsored a campaign in LGBTI-oriented media to encourage victims to report incidents and file complaints with police. Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven tightened adherence to the mandatory curriculum to promote respect for sexual diversity.

In the Netherlands the Muslim community of approximately 900,000 persons faced frequent physical and verbal attacks, acts of vandalism, discrimination, and racism, as did members of other minority and immigrant groups. In 2018 police registered 137 incidents against Muslims out of a total of 3,299 discriminatory incidents. Multiple incidents concerned harassment of women on the street because they were wearing a headscarf, as well as incidents involving anti-Muslim stickers and posters. Violent incidents, however, were rare.

The Dutch government, the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security, as well as local authorities closely monitored threats directed at Islamic institutions, including about 500 mosques. In 2018, 26 incidents at mosques were reported. The authorities supported mosques in enhancing security and provided ad hoc security if required.

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