MPs on Thursday voted in favour of requiring everyone who has to go through the compulsory integration process (inburgering) to sign a document declaring they will uphold Dutch values.
The participatieverklaring – participation declaration – includes a commitment to ‘respect’ values, such as freedom of speech, and ‘make an active contribution to Dutch society’.
The measure still has to be approved by the upper house of parliament. Once it has senate approval, social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher plans to make signing the contract compulsory from July 1. People who refuse to sign can be fined up to €340 and, eventually, refused residency rights.
Refugee organisation VluchtelingenWerk has pointed out in the past that new arrivals are being asked to sign a document which not all Dutch nationals support or adhere to.
D66 parliamentarian Paul van Meenen says that requiring new arrivals to sign the document is creating first and second class citizens.
‘You would think it is a PVV law but it is from a Labour minister,’ Van Meenen told a radio programme on Thursday.
The decision to press ahead with the contract follows what the government says are ‘successful trials’ of the concept in 13 councils between March 2014 and March 2015.
In total, just over 4,000 people were involved in the trials and 1,500 completed the courses and signed the official declaration, a report for the social affairs ministry shows.
What does the participation declaration say? Here’s a translation of the version currently being used in town halls around the country.
Welcome to the Netherlands! The Netherlands is a constitutional democracy. This means that everyone has the same rights and that everyone must obey the same laws. In the Netherlands, the values of freedom, equality and solidarity are central. These values are connected to rights which also apply to you. These values can only be upheld if everyone actively contributes to society. In the Netherlands, participation is extremely important.
In the Netherlands, everyone may think, do and say what he will. This means that: Everyone can express their own opinions
Everyone may have their own belief and is free to decide whether to believe or not
Everyone has the right to his or her own sexual preference
Everyone has the right to make their own choices and independence
There are boundaries to this. What someone says or does may never conflict with the law. For example, you may not deliberately insult someone, discriminate against them or stimulate hatred.
In the Netherlands, all citizens are treated equally. Discrimination on the grounds of sex, belief, origin or sexual preference is not accepted.
In the Netherlands, citizens are responsible for society. Citizens have the right to live in a safe environment, to decent housing, to fair labour contracts, a minimum wage when they work, good education and good medical care. The government has a duty to protect people against exploitation and unfair treatment. In principle, citizens must ensure they can look after themselves. If that is not possible, and no-one else can help, the government will offer help.
In the Netherlands, we ask all citizens to contribute to a pleasant and safe society, for example, by working, going to school or doing voluntary work. This can be done in the neighbourhood, at school or through an association. Speaking Dutch is very important in this.
I declare that I have taken note of the above listed Dutch society values and that I will repect them. I declare that I want to make an active contribution to Dutch society and that I expect to be given the space and the cooperation of my fellow citizens to do this.
Please note, this is a rough translation by DutchNews.nl for information purposes only