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Last updated on 08.12.2017 at 13:25

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Dutch town prohibits protests over Zwarte Piet

Dutch town prohibits protests over Zwarte Piet

On 18th of November 2017, prior to the arrival of Sinterklaas Festival in Dokkum, anti-Black Pete (Zwarte Piet) demonstrators were blocked from continuing their bus journey when Black Pete supporters stopped their cars on the side of the highway and walked onto the road in front of the buses.

Peaceful Assembly

On 18th of November 2017, prior to the arrival of Sinterklaas Festival in Dokkum, anti-Black Pete (Zwarte Piet) demonstrators were blocked from continuing their bus journey when Black Pete supporters stopped their cars on the side of the highway and walked onto the road in front of the buses. 

The mayor of Dokkum had prohibited the protest, because he could not guarantee the safety of both the protesters and the visitors of the Sinterklaas festivities. The action group "Kick Out Black Pete" - the symbol of which is regarded by the group as a "vestige of slavery" - reacted to the incident, stating that: "It is a disgrace, and with the help of the system, the rioters succeeded in reversing the right to demonstrate in this country".

After the incident, the European Network against Racism issued a letter to the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, condemning the mayor's actions and lack of police protection when the anti-Black Pete demonstrators were blocked by far-right supporters. In the letter, the Network declared that: "The right to freedom of assembly should be enjoyed without discrimination".

Association in Netherlands

Freedom of association is guaranteed by law and respected in practice. Everyone has the right to freely form and join an organisation. However, this right may be subject to restrictions in the interest of public order.

Association

Freedom of association is guaranteed by law and respected in practice. Everyone has the right to freely form and join an organisation, however this right may be subject to restrictions in the interest of public order. Civil society organisations are easy to set up, while registration and reporting requirements depend on the type of organisation that is formed. Importantly, it is not mandatory for an informal association to be registered. Formal associations with full legal capacity are established by notarial deed and required to register in the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. Regulations and practices allow civil society organisations to exercise self-governance without interference in their internal structures, operating procedures and activities. They also have the freedom to seek, receive and use financial resources, including from foreign sources, and join other associations and federations, whether national or international.

Peaceful Assembly in Netherlands

The right to assembly and demonstration is enshrined in the Constitution and may only be limited to the extent necessary to prevent public disorder, for traffic reasons or to protect health.

The right to assembly and demonstration is enshrined in the constitution and may only be limited to the extent necessary to prevent public disorder, for traffic reasons or to protect health. The Law on Public Demonstrations provides that the right to assembly is regulated by local bylaws adopted by local governments. Notification requirements for public assemblies vary from town to town. Mayors have the power to impose restrictions and prohibit a demonstration. They may also ban an assembly for non-compliance with the notification requirements. Reports indicate that simultaneous opposition assemblies are facilitated but often on condition that they are staged out of sight and sound of one another. Civil society also reports that restrictions placed on assemblies are sometimes not communicated early enough to allow organisers to apply for a judicial review of the decision before the date of the assembly. Delayed communication from the authorities can also impede the early dissemination of information about the event. Civil society has also documented the use of force, detentions and kettling by the police. Freedom to monitor and report on public assemblies is guaranteed to the media.


Expression in Netherlands

The right to freedom of expression is protected by the Constitution and may only be restricted in the case of expression of hatred on the basis of race, religion, personal convictions or sexual orientation.

The right to freedom of expression is protected by the Constitution and may only be restricted in the case of expression of hatred on the basis of race, religion, personal convictions or sexual orientation. Provisions penalising blasphemy were abolished in 2013 but insulting the monarchy remains a criminal offence. Within those legal limits, which apply also to online expression, everyone has the right to voice their opinions and to freely receive and give out information through any media. Media are free, independent and pluralistic. Reported cases of press censorship are rare. However, there are indications that journalists experience some degree of self-censorship on sensitive topics, in particular when religion and immigration are concerned. Incidents of violence, threats and intimidation against journalists are rare. The Internet is widely available and access is unrestricted.


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